Ever seen the movie The Butterfly Effect? The movie depicts the so-called butterfly effect—a hypothetical situation where small initial differences can lead to huge unforeseen consequences over time. It originated from the metaphorical example by Edward Lorenz, where a tornado is influenced by minor perturbations of a distant butterfly flapping its wings some time earlier. Needless to say, it's an intriguing idea that has further inspired many artists, writers, and directors alike.
Recently, one thread on Reddit that investigates the butterfly effect went viral. After one user asked fellow Redditors "What's the craziest butterfly effect that happened to you because of a small decision you made?", hundreds of replies flew in instantly. With almost 70k likes, the thread blew up, and we feel obliged to share some of the most interesting answers from the thread. Scroll down below to read them, vote for the ones that you found the most interesting, and share your answer in the comment section!More info: Reddit
My parents dream was to have a "famous child". When my older sister's figure skating career ended in her early twenties, the spotlight shifted to me. I was a fine oboist, and took private voice lessons with intent to audition for the local music faculty (opera?). In any case, there was a lot of pressure, and while I was successful at school and classical music, it was never enough.
At 17, before senior year began, my sister gifted me a kitten. My parents had given her 2 in her senior year and the implication was that it was my turn. When my sister dropped me off, my parents locked me out, saying that if i wanted my own pet I needed my own place. So I found one - that night. I worked 3 jobs to support myself through senior year and graduated with entrance scholarships to both of the local universities.
I couldnt afford a music degree while living on my own, even with the entrance scholarships. And good thing. Entering the work force showed me how much I love active jobs. 3 years later, I enrolled in college and became an industrial mechanic/millwright, to my parents great shame.
After a few years of this I landed a sweet contract where I work on Saturdays and Sundays but receive a full week's pay. Although I am a living beacon of disappointment, I comfort myself with my 100k a year job, 2 day workweek, and 2 cats.
Being kicked out over a kitten saved me from wasting years chasing an improbable career just to please my parents.
When I was in 8th grade (13 years old) I had a really long bus ride home so would pass the time by reading. One day I faced the very serious situation of nothing to read and a minute to grab something in the library, and for whatever reason I grabbed a book on astronomy. That book was amazing and grabbed me like nothing else had before. I remember being excited to realize every astronomer on Earth was 13 years old once too, and that was a career you could actually do, even if you were from Pittsburgh.
Anyway, today I am a professional astronomer who studies gigantic space explosions for a living. There was a lot of work to get from that moment to this one, but I’m always grateful that I picked up that library book!
I had to call my heart surgeon to give him my new insurance #s (I had only just gotten them because the person who had them had the flu and was not getting back to me) as soon as I got my numbers, I called surgeon - the receptionist said, "oh, hey, we just had a cancelation for this Friday, do you want it?" Of course I wanted to get it over and not wait another month. decided to take the open heart surgery cancelation appointment (a month before my actual appointment), and well, surgeon said that thank goodness I did because once he got a look inside, he realized I would not have survived to the original appointment date.
So, if the insurance lady didn't have the flu, I would have gotten those numbers a lot sooner, and never gotten the offer to have the surgery when I did.
Someone else's flu saved my life.
So a few years back, I lived in Nice (South of France) for a while. As a musician I would make a bit of extra cash busking, and one day, I figured I'd go and busk at the promenade 'd'anglais by the sea. It's usually packed, and it just a generally pleasant place to be. I set up, played a couple of songs and was doing pretty well and making a decent amount of money. Then suddenly not one, but two of my guitar strings snapped (I even remember I was playing 'The Scientist' at the time).
I was massively gutted and decided to cut my losses early. I stormed off home (by the station) in a bit of a sulk at having to re-string my guitar and cutting short what was essentially one of my most productive days of busking since moving there. Literally one hour later, my phone starts to blow the [hell] up with family and friends freaking out and asking if I was at the promenade.
It was Bastille Day, 2016. The truck drove into the same crowd I was playing to, killing 86 people, including my at-the-time gf's uncle. I had two other friends who were amongst the 458 injured. I moved home the next month because it was too much, and haven't been back since.
It's hard to explain, sometimes I think I was super lucky, sometimes I just kind of cry and wonder why I was lucky and others weren't. It's surreal, and despite what people think... it's a truly horrible feeling.
4 years ago a kid I barely knew from school invited me to a six flags. I was a bit of a loner at the time and I heard rumors about this kid being weird, so I intended to not go.
On the day he wanted me to go, I was feeling extra bored and decided on a whim “why not?”. So I went and met this kid and two of his friends I’ve never met at a six flags.
4 years later and that kid is my best friend, and I have 3 other very close friends I met through him. Not only that, but I also met my first girlfriend because of the connections some of my new friends had. It transformed my high school years from being alone to having an amazing group of friends I could do almost anything with.
I intended to ask my best friend to be my best man one day, and I don’t intend on ever getting out of touch with any of them. I’m home from college now, and we are going to have a lot of fun together. Best decision I’ve ever made.
Watched ‘who wants to be a millionaire’ and got so annoyed at the candidates not knowing a simple question about Katy Perry, that I applied. Got in. Got to play. Won a lot of money. Booked a holiday to a dream destination with that money. Met my husband there. We now have a 1 year old son :)
I procrastinated one day in high school by watching a foreign musical on youtube. I ended up trying to learn the lyrics and eventually the language. That led me to discovering the field of linguistics, which I'm now majoring in. I don't know what I'd be doing now had I actually started doing my homework that day instead.
Made a last minute decision to go to a friend's divorce party and met my wife.
In Afghanistan, wasnt done with my coffee, so I passed on a trip from one base to another (there was another convoy a few hours later). Most everyone died who took the 1st convoy. My 2nd cup of coffee wasnt even cold when I found out.
When my dad was about 20, he needed a phone number so he called the operator from a pay phone, she gave him the number, he hung up, and she accidentally refunded the money back to the pay phone. She called the pay phone back and asked him if he could put the money back in, which he did and hung up again. She accidentally refunded the money again and had to call back again to ask him to put the money back in; he did and hung up again. She was so flustered, she refunded the money again and called back again and my father got to chatting with her and got her number. They set up a date (which she stood him up for), then she forgot his name when he called her again, then they actually got coffee and four years later were married. This coming August it'll be 50 years for them.
If my dad didn't need that phone number, I wouldn't be here.
I was always super flirty with the girl from HR, but we were always seeing other people / don't date at work so when she left the company I was bummed. A year or two later a coworker asked me to search my email archives (that was a thing back then) for something he needed. I ended up stumbling across the "farewell to my work-friends" email from HR girl and she sent it from her personal email address. I reached out to her, we had coffee, then a date, then many dates, then I love yous and I put a ring on it ASAP.
12 years later, extremely happily married, 2 goofy kids, 2 evil cats, and she still puts up with my [crap].
I had to renew the sticker on my license plate a couple of years ago and really didn't feel like sitting in the waiting room by myself forever so I told my mom I'd take her out to dinner after if she came with me.. The guy working at the counter turned out to be my moms long lost biological brother. If she hadn't come with me I would have never known
I was walking to school and got distracted by a hedgehog that ran in a bush next to me then a big ass tree branch fell infront of me, would've crushed me if I didn't get distracted by a spikey little mouse scurrying in the bushes. I gave him a dead cricket the next day, he took it and ran off. God speed spikey mouse.
The other day I was driving home from work, traffic was light and I was behind a car with a numberplate that started "KFD". Decided to duck through KFC drive thru for chippies with extra salt as a little treat to myself.
They took forever to bring them out and by the time they finally did (all told about 10 minutes later), traffic has slowed to a complete halt.
I need to get over a bridge that's normally six lanes which has now been reduced to one. Turns out it's due to a massive collision involving several cars. When I finally get to the point where I'm driving past, I notice the numberplate on one of the cars, that same KFD numberplate.
If I hadn't stopped to get hot chips I'm fairly sure I'd have been in a major collision.
The first day I ever signed up for internet back in 1999, I installed mIRC (because it was on the starter disk my ISP gave me) and joined a random chat room. Over the course of the next year the “regulars” in that room became like family to me. We would talk about everything. All that practice made me a fast typist and WAY better communicator than I was before that. They would even help me when I had trouble understanding something in my college classes. I also met my husband in that room, and we’ve been happily married for 18 years. Others from our little IRC family are married, too, and we still keep in touch. All because I randomly chose THAT chat room that day.
At a university career fair and just has a long day taking to companies and heading out when I see a Honda booth. Designing cars would be awesome but there is a huge line, it has been a long day, and what are the chances? But wait! They are giving away hats and shirts and model cars! So I talk to them. A day later I get a callback for an online assessment. I fill that out and don’t hear anything back for a month or so, the I get a call one night saying I was an alternate and someone cancelled last minute so they want to fly me up for on-site interviews. I go and end up getting and accepting an offer. After graduation I move about 1000 miles away from home for my new job where a few years after I meet my now wife and we have 2 kids. I never would have crossed paths with her otherwise. So the entire course of my life was shifted because Honda gave away good swag at their career fair booth.
About 10 years ago, There were no pc games to play so I tried using windows XP's movie maker out of boredom. I didn't know that I'm going to enjoy it and take it seriously.
Now, I'm currently working on a tv/film production as a video editor.
My desire for pizza set off a chain reaction that destroyed my family.
One day got home from school and really wanted pizza. family was poor so spontaneous food trips weren't always in the cards. Really worked my pouty face to my mom and begged to go to the local pizza place for dinner. She said alright. While chilling there I saw my uncle walk by, and I was like "da [hell], uncle X is that you?". Now you might say well he wanted pizza what's the big deal? well he lived several states away so to arbitrarily be in town and not tell anyone was strange.
Turned out he was having an affair with his sister in law my aunt on the other side of the family. She was basically a money-grubbing [witch] and the family protested. One thing led to another and everyone hates each other now and we haven't had contact in like 20 years.
I just wanted some pizza :(
I'm alive because my aunt was born.
My grandfather was conscripted into the Romanian army as a medic, and his unit was one of the many acting as a defensive barrier, covering the Nazi supply lines to Stalingrad. She was born, and he was called back to Bucharest from the front. While he was on leave, the Russians launched Operation Uranus, which decimated the axis forces. He recieved word that his unit had been completely destroyed. He was never reassigned, and in 1948, my mother was born.
I'm also alive because a bunch of Romanian cows got sick. My other grandfather was a pharmacist, back when that meant actually making medicines, he was also a Jew. The town he lived in was largely agrarian, and their cow herds came down with some illness that was killing them. He whipped something up that cured them. The townspeople were very grateful to him. So grateful that when the chief of police heard that the Nazis were coming to town to take inventory of who lived there, he came to my grandfather's house with some train tickets for him and his wife. They escaped the Nazis, and never got caught. My father was born at the end of 1945.
I guess this is the opposite of the butterfly effect, really. Rather than one small action blowing up into a much more important chain of events, two hugely improbable events are eventually lead to my birth(and obviously my extended family as well)... and now, I run ads on the internet.
I have one for another person.
In 2014, I was coaching my twins' (M/F) rec flag football team. My oldest player has a younger sister who came to watch a practice - we will call her Grace. She saw my daughter on the team, told her dad "There's a girl on that team!" and the next week, she was on my roster. Her and my daughter became fast friends. While the flag football season was wrapping up, I was putting together my roster for the upcoming rec volleyball team. At the end of one of my practices, my daughter invited Grace to play on the volleyball team together. Grace had played the previous season and not cared for it too much. Grace agreed and played from rec to club then to high school with my daughter. My daughter (graduated last year) and I watched Grace, as captain, lead her team to a state championship and she has a D-1 scholarship for volleyball next fall.
My wife got an email from her old colleagues the day we returned home from our honeymoon, asking if she wanted to star in a short film they were doing for fun. She said sure, and asked if I could come along, as she knew I had an interest in movies, but at the time I worked in life insurance and was miserable.
It was more than an interest- I had always wanted to make films, but never made the right connections with people and didn’t know where to start.
I made friends with the producer of that short film my wife was in, and 11 years later filmmaking and video production is my career. I’ve shot feature films, short films, video for tv and web, and all over the world because of that one email to my wife. Changed our lives!
Oh, and that original short film never got finished lol
High school, I didnt get into the AP history class wanted. Changed up my schedule, including a different gym class, without everyone I knew. I was heartbroken. I really wanted to teach, and without an AP class senior year, I was screwed.
Made a new friend in gym class, who was wearing a volunteer firefighter shirt. He had just joined. Seemed interesting, and he invited me to check it out.
They paid for me to get my EMT. Fell in love with healthcare.
Fast forward quite a while, and I'm an ER Nurse and 'precept' students and new nurses, teaching them how to survive in the ER. I also do public outreach and injury prevention. And I love it. Glad I missed out on my class.
Pregnant cousin usually takes the bus at around 5:10pm after work. She was about to hop inside the bus but she needed to pee really badly and the commute is about an hour long so she decided to go to the restroom instead and just catch the next bus. That 5:10 bus ended up falling from a cliff.
My husband- He found out after 18 years that his moms side of the family was Spanish, not Mexican. He found this interesting and changed his country to “Spain” on MySpace instead the US where he really was. Meanwhile in Australia, I was helping my friend find Spanish people to add as a friend as she was learning the language. I came across my now husband and decided to send him a friend request as well. We got along really well and met in person after 3 years. Have been together 11 years, married for 7. If he didn’t change his country to Spain (and only for a day or so) we’d never know each other existed.
The older I get, the more I am constantly cognizant of the vast cascade of seemingly insignificant decisions and actions that led me to where I am. For example, a decision 25 years ago to change a refrigerator light bulb before going out resulted in my being at the "wrong" time and place so as to get mugged, which resulted in my decision to move out of the city I had been living in, which resulted in my meeting my wife, and from there to having all my kids and the whole shebang. I would have had a different whole shebang had I not changed that lightbulb that afternoon, but the path to the present leads through that (and a thousand other) similarly trivial decisions...
I chose to rearrange the sequence of classes slightly before starting my education. By doing this, I had to commute to a different branch of the school in a different town than the one I was originally signed up for. On my first day there, I helped a girl who had managed to break both of her arms in a drunken shopping cart accident, I learned later. This girl, whom I would absolutely never have met had I not changed my classes around, is my wife through 14 years.
Was going to carpool with my aunt to a family gathering. At the last minute I decided to go by myself so I could leave early if I wanted. It was a ways out of town and I didn’t want to be stuck there. On the way there she drove off the road into a ditch. She was ok but the passenger side of her car was totally smashed in.
2 years ago I was in a hospital for a week due to acne and was extremely bored (the Wi-Fi was slow), so I asked my mom to bring me a sketchbook and pencils so I could draw.
I am now starting a career as an artist/animator.
At the end of 6th grade, my class took a field trip on a whale watch. That night, I saw a commercial for a documentary TV series on whales. Ever since that day, I wanted to grow up and protect whales from being hunted. Today I work in the military specializing in Marine Preservation.
I was given two start dates for an entry level job in a large organisation.
The date I choose to start led to working in a small but high profile team so I got lots of exposure with senior management and I became the can-do-guy who'd fix a million tiny problems. That recognition led to promotions, a fantastic career, further professional qualifications and working overseas for several years. I also met my best friend and my partner.
If I'd chosen the other date I'd have been sent to a data processing pool and been fairly anonymous.
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