Have you ever been sure that something was a fact? Perhaps something you ‘know’ to be an unequivocal truth, so you stroll to Wikipedia to look into it and upon getting there realise you were wrong. Perhaps you’ve even had a group of friends agree upon the validity of a statement, only to find you’re all wrong. Now, imagine a huge cluster of seemingly unconnected people claiming something existed in exact terms, only to not be able to find concrete evidence of it. That’s close to what a portion of Overwatch players are experiencing at the moment.
The Mandela Effect is a fascinating concept. It essentially posits the idea of mass groups of people remembering something about reality that is false. It received its namesake from troops of people claiming, assuredly, that Nelson Mandela died in prison in the 1980s. Of course, Mandela didn’t die until 2013. It’s far from the only cited example. Hannibal Lecter never says ‘Hello Clarice’ in Silence of the Lambs, the Berenstain Bears was never spelt with an ‘e’ instead of an ‘a’, and Sinbad never made a genie movie. Many claim the veridical nature of these things, but while they’re close to the truth, none are exact. There’s a lot of speculation as to how this happens. The more out there suggest this is an instance of parallel universes getting a little muddled with our own. Even further out there, it’s time-travellers going back and affecting our past. There is, of course, a more mundane explanation: our minds are quite bad at recollection – with a scoop of memory conformity on top.
The effect has reared its head in a new, rather unexpected place: the colourful battlegrounds of Overwatch. It comes in the form of a Reaper and Mercy interaction you can hear in the waiting area before a game starts. The line supposedly goes:
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