It was very late one night in the summer of 2016, I was at home browsing random Facebook posts and YouTube videos, a bad habit when there’s nothing of interest to do, when I came upon a post that said something like, “Is it Berenstein or Berenstain Bears? Is it a Mandela Effect?”. I had no idea what the Mandela Effect was or if this post was a hoax. I laughed and said to myself “Berenstein, duh”, but I was curious so I clicked and watched the video. That one decision, that night, that video, changed my entire world. I watched it to completion, and I sat there, in the dark, staring at my bright computer screen for a good long moment in disbelief of what I had seen. My body stiffened, my heart pounded heavily in my chest as the first thoughts I could put together started unraveling telling me, “no, this isn’t true”, let me find something to prove it isn’t true”. Let me “google it”. I start frantically looking up images of Berenstein bear books, looking at videos, I even called my aunt, I knew she would be awake, and I asked her if she still had any Berenstein bear books around the house. She sleepily replies, “yes, actually I still have my son’s old books in the garage, let me go get them”…While I’m waiting for her to come back to the phone my hand is gripping my cell phone, I’m trembling inside, hoping this wasn’t true. “Here it is, I found it”, she says. I ask her “does it say Berenstein or Berenstain?”, she says,”well actually it says Berenstain…that’s weird”. My eyes just grew wide at that moment and my heart started beating heavier. “Are you serious?”, I’m half squealing, yelling because I don’t want to be too loud, and she says “huh, that’s supposed to be Berenstein, this is an old book from when he was around 6 years old.” The book she has was dated in the early 80s. I’m the oldest of all the children in the family and I knew without a shadow of a doubt that it was Berenstein Bears. As a child I was always curious about the pronunciation of it, was it pronounced “steen or stein”? So I knew the correct way was one of the two. I just always said “steen” because it was easier to say. Here I am, 33 years old at the time, finding out for the first time that my entire knowledge of what was real had completely crumbled and fallen away. It was as if the rug of my life, and lessons I’ve learned, had completely been pulled out from underneath me. I eventually got off the phone, leaving my aunt confused but sleepy. She didn’t quite grasp the severity of what I was feeling right in that moment but I knew we’d re-approach it later. That night, alone again with my computer, I began to question God. Was God real? Is this world real? How did this happen? Is it time travel? I had so many questions, my mind was racing all night. Needless to say, I did not sleep. In fact, I couldn’t sleep for a long time. My days and nights were filled with endless youtube videos about this thing called the mandela effect, what it is, why is it happening, what other changes are on the way?
After a while, I was seeing it was mainly small logos, movie lines, etc, all terrifying. I actually remembered thinking, well if this is happening, what could possibly change that would rock the very core of society, the bible. “But that would never happen” I think out loud to myself. Then one day it happened, I was watching a video by a youtuber by the name of photohelix. His video was very raw and authentic and came from a place of grief and disbelief. He discussed the word “wineskins” in the scripture he was reading had changed to “bottles”. I could tell his entire tone was defeated and confused. Was God causing this? Was the mandela effect a CERN experiment? A government conspiracy? How do we stop it? Will things go back to normal? The video left me feeling the same, just as defeated, angry even. If the bible can change, anything can, and nothing in my life would ever be seen the same again. Everything was up for question now. I didn’t know where to go, who to talk to, or what to do about this. All I knew was that I knew nothing at all.