People Are Sharing Their Real-Life 'Butterfly Effect' Stories

The butterfly effect, as I understand it, is the idea that absolutely every action, no matter how big or small, has a ripple effect on the larger world. It's probably the only Ashton Kutcher movie that has made it into an everyday reference that people will toss around. But what does it look like in real life?

Redditors came up with some fascinating responses when asked on r/AskReddit if they had any real-life butterfly effect stories.

Never doubt the powers of penicillin.

Unsplash | Christina Victoria Craft

"My mother wore heels to work and slipped on the carpeted steps, resulting in a broken high heel and a broken leg. While she was home recovering, she somehow developed allergies that led to her needing penicillin.

"The penicillin interfered with her birth control and now I have a brother 13 years younger than me."


The fated seat.

Unsplash | Dom Fou

"Nearly every single friend I have in college is because one day in my gen-ed health class we had to pick a seat that would become our seat for the semester. When I came in there weren’t many seats left, and the people I sat next to ended up becoming my best friends and introduced me to all of my other friends in one way or another."


Thanks, roomie.

Unsplash | Nicolás Perondi

"I was going out to grab pizza and a case of beer for me and my roommate but he texted me that he had a stomach thing so I walked to a restaurant and ordered dinner at the bar and met a girl there and now we are married and have two kids because my roommate had diarrhea."


Just for a few minutes...

"If my biological mom hadn’t asked her parents to watch me for a couple hours and then left town, I wouldn’t have had the incredible and privileged life that I was given through adoption. My younger half brothers were raised by our biological mom and they are a total freaking mess (I’m more of a mom to them than their actual mom), and I would have been an absolute wreck also if she’d kept me. Instead I was given an amazing private education, all the sports and musical adventures, and most important a healthy, loving home with two parents who taught me that just because you share blood doesn’t mean you love, and just because you didn’t give birth to a child doesn’t mean you can’t be their parent."


Bottoms up.

Unsplash | BENCE BOROS

"The wife and I were having dinner in Hawaii one night on vacation. As we were getting up to leave, I noticed she hadn’t finished her beer. I told her she should finish the beer since we paid some ridiculous price for it. Fast forward 30 seconds and we leave the restaurant and are walking the 3 blocks back to the hotel. About 50 feet in front of us as we’re walking (were walking down the sidewalk on the left side of the road), a car comes flying out of a side street from the right and crosses through the street, hops the sidewalk in front of us, and smashes into a wall. If she didn’t finish her beer, we would have been smoked by the car and most likely squished between the car and the wall. We always finish our beer now."


Sonic to the rescue.

"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."


A whale of an origin story.

"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."


It all comes down to a coin toss.

Unsplash | Simon

"Almost everything that has happened in my life for the past eight years is a direct result of me literally flipping a coin to decide between two colleges. I play the sport I do, have the friends I do, am dating the person I am, and very nearly every other aspect of my life, is because a nickel landed on heads."


Procrastination pays off.

Unsplash | Christian Wiediger

"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."


Follow your heart.

Unsplash | carolyn christine

"One day I was working at a surfshop, and at the end of my shift at 6pm. I wanted to hangout for a bit to flirt with one of my coworkers which led to me witnessing a bad car accident 30 minutes later. Which led me to meeting an off duty EMT on scene, which led me to become an EMT/Paramedic and now I love my career. If I didn’t decide to flirt with said coworker, I wouldn’t be an EMT."


Never go with foreign language, I guess.

Unsplash | NeONBRAND

"Entering middle school, I had to choose between foreign language or music. I made my decision. My mother came into my room later that night to make sure I was certain in my choice. I chose music, which led me to pilot training, to radio, to my ex-wife, my kids, Massachusetts (twice), my new partner and a career in IT. I can trace my entire adult life to a decision I made in fifth grade."


Shoot your shot.

"I moved to New Zealand to pursue my dream because my ex fiance was playing music on a speaker in public and wouldn't stop when I asked. That one incident cracked the relationship so badly it led to him breaking up then crawling back. In those 5 hours, I applied for the school I wasn't going to go to because of him. I'm now with the love of my life and couldn't be happier."


Listen to your homesickness.

Unsplash | Ross Parmly

"Back in the 80s, my mom studied abroad in England. A couple days before her flight back home to the US, she got too homesick to wait any longer and spontaneously bought a ticket home early. The flight she was originally supposed to take was Pan Am flight 103, where all 243 passengers and 16 crew died. If not for her homesickness, her and my dad would not have met and my brother and I would not have been in existence."


Thanks, internet.

Unsplash | LinkedIn Sales Solutions

"I was strolling through Ifunny 2 years ago and left a comment on one of the featured pictures. A guy responded to my comment, we kept replying to each other for a few days and then exchanged our kiks and started texting on there. 2 years later and we're now married and have a 3 month old daughter. I have PCOS and my doctor informed me I probably could never have children and he was previously married for 10 years and never had any kids, no matter how much he tried. Later on he found out he had a really low sperm count. Pretty much impossible for us to have any baby, but we have our daughter now. She is a perfectly healthy baby."


That escalated quickly.

Unsplash | Juan Encalada

"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."


Nice life if you can bear it.

"When I was 15 or so a Louisiana black bear ran across the road in front of my car. I'm way out of their native range and it really struck a cord with me. It triggered my decision to focus on wildlife management going forward. I have my degree now and work with alligators, but I've work with bears in the past. All because me and some lost bear crossed paths on a rainy night."


From grief to joy.

Unsplash | mari lezhava

"Mom died when I was 3. If she hadn’t died, my children wouldn’t exist.

"The short version: My dad wouldn’t have remarried and we wouldn’t have moved and I wouldn’t have met my husband.

"The source of my deepest grief also gave me my greatest joy."


How I met your father.

Unsplash | Nguyen Dang Hoang Nhu

"In the coed dorms in college, the girl that lived next door to us dated one of the guys upstairs. It did not go well, and he and the rest of the guys really disliked her. They would stomp and jump and make horribly loud noises to make her mad, which lead to my friends and I going up there to 'yell' at them (we really just wanted to scare them into thinking we were pissed), and that’s the night I met my now husband. He was the roommate of the guy."


Poetry FTW.

"I was encouraged to enter a poetry competition by my teacher when I was about 17. There was a cash prize, so I decided after some convincing that I would give it a try. I ended up winning, and my poem became published. A couple of months later I get a message on Facebook from a girl who would like to know more about the poem, because she has to analyse it in connection with her upcoming exam. It turns out her and I are about the same age, so we decide to meet up and discuss it. We've been together for 4 years now and we're getting married next month. I often wonder what my life would look like if my teacher hadn't approached me back then."


When the Butterfly Effect goes sideways.

Unsplash | Kelsey Brown

"I moved a potted plant on one side of an elevator about 3 inches up to be symmetrical with the other. The guy walks in and breaks his toe on it (I think he was running) and on the way to the ER in his car with a coworker driving they got into a car wreck."


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