This Is Normal

We like to believe we live in a skewed reality. What if we don’t?

Colin Horgan
6 min readJun 22, 2020


Photo by Pau Casals on Unsplash

“On Tuesday, in this most normal year of 2020, President Donald Trump woke up, hopped on Twitter, and fired off a few tweets amplifying a conspiracy theory that a cable TV host he dislikes had murdered someone decades ago,” Giled Edelman wrote for Wired in May. “Later that day, for the first time, Twitter made the momentous decision to flag Trump for tweeting false information. Amazingly, it was in response to a completely different set of tweets.”

In this most normal year of 2020. I got stuck on this sarcastic aside. There’s a theory out there that we’re living in an alternate timeline. At some point in the not-so-distant past, the theory goes, we skewed off our so-called normal trajectory in the space-time continuum and ended up in a warped version of our world. Evidence for this theory abounds. In the regular timeline, for instance, the Berenstain Bears children’s book series was spelled ‘Berenstein’. New Zealand was actually somewhere north of Australia. Sinbad starred in a 1990s movie called Shazaam.

Aside from the feeling that things have simply changed from how we remember them (which, in reality, is likely caused by the Mandela Effect), events feel as though they’ve become increasingly weird or unexpected. The Chicago Cubs won the World Series, for one thing. Britain voted to leave the European Union. The government confirmed the existence of UFOs. We’ve been living through months of lockdown because of a global pandemic. Even a recent bizarre spat between actor Ron Perlman and Senator Ted Cruz might be small proof of our altered state. And, of course, Donald Trump became president. This one event, and all subsequent related occurrences, is usually held up as the most convincing abnormality.

How we ended up allegedly sidetracked from our regular timeline remains a mystery, but there are theories about that, too. One holds that it’s all the work of CERN — that when it fired up its Large Hadron Collider in 2008, it unknowingly cast us into this new reality. It could be that we’re actually slipping in and out of parallel universes all the time.

But there’s another, simpler theory. What if we’re wrong about our apparently abnormal state of affairs? What if our current reality — the…