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How Gen Z discovered the "Mandela Effect"

It involves Britney Spears and, of course, a TikTok trend

How Gen Z discovered the Mandela Effect It involves Britney Spears and, of course, a TikTok trend

Searching on TikTok for the hashtag #mandelaeffect, one discovers a figure of views close to 810 million with hundreds of videos of users listing several examples of this mnemonic phenomenon that, technically, is called confabulation or false memory. The suggestive term "Mandela effect" was invented in 2009 by researcher Fiona Broome who, according to anecdote, had developed the false memory that Nelson Mandela had died in the 1980s when in fact he was alive and well at the time. Initially Broome used the term to try to hypothesize the existence of parallel universes, but over the years the word took on a life of its own, becoming the pop term to describe the phenomenon whereby a large group of unrelated people have a false memory of the past. Recently, the Mandela Effect has been discussed in connection with Britney Spears' Oops... I did it again! video, in which many people remember the singer wearing an headset when, in fact, she was not. 

@curious.raven.7 Mandela effect #britneyspears #freebritney #oopsididitagain #mandelaeffect #mandela #paralelldimension #paralelluniverse Scary - Background Sounds

Since the story went viral on TikTok, users who have discovered the existence of Mandela Effect everywhere in pop culture have multiplied: many are convinced that the logo of Fruit of the Loom includes a cornucopia, which never existed, others believe that Pikachu's tail is black even though it has always been only yellow, others still believe that the Looney Tunes are actually called Looney Toons while the song of Aqua does «I’m a Barbie girl, in the Barbie world» and niot «in a Barbie World». The mechanism behind the Mandela Effect is actually simple: in the case of the Britney Spears video, for example, the cognitive error can be explained by the fact that the singer made a gesture in the video as if she were adjusting the microphone on her face, that she actually wore the microphone during all of her concerts, and that the action figures depicting her in the outfit in that video included an in-ear microphone. And while the phenomenon of false memories has yet to be unanimously explained, some psychiatrists have determined that one of the causes is the social and cognitive reinforcement of misinformation. A retrospective error that works a bit like pieces of different memories being compressed into a single memory that is, however, false. 

The Mandela Effect would therefore have to do with an error in the reporting of a certain fact that propagates for so long that it starts to sound like the truth. On Reddit, an anonymous user brought up as an example the recent episode of Will Smith slapping Chris Rock during the night of the Oscars, which was described as a "punch" in many publications: 

«Decades from now when people talk about the Oscar 2022 moment some are going to claim they remember him punching Chris Rock when in reality it was a slap. For some reason people keep calling it a punch which makes this situation perfect for Mandela effect theories.».