Time Travel

John Titor: The Alter-vú Phenomenon

Before John Titor left our worldline in 2001, he wanted to try something new.

An “experiment.”

He offered to take letters back with him to 1998, and send them to alternate versions of people in this timeline. It would be a quick stop on his return to 1975, whence he would jump back to his future 2036.

So, wanting to be a part of this “experiment,” certain message board posters agreed to send their letters to Pamela. She was, I suppose you could say, Titor’s confidant during his trip through our worldline. She would compile the letters — most of which were, I assume, emails — and pass them on to the time traveler.

This was it: A chance for everyone to send messages to their alternate selves, to let them know about important events in their futures, or just say “Hi.” One participant sent an encrypted message that only he could understand, while Pamela sent an old-fashioned, written letter, as she didn’t have access to the Internet in 1998.

Of course, no one expected anything to happen. Some participated just for the hell of it, and those who believed Titor was, indeed, an actual time traveler, knew they likely wouldn’t notice any changes. The messages would be sent in an entirely different worldline.

John Titor even said as much. It just wasn’t part of the deal.

But when it comes to time travel, you never know what you’re going to get. Many of the participants who agreed to send messages experienced what have come to be known as “Alter-vús.”

What Is An Alter Vu?

An Alter vu is a strange phenomenon in which someone remembers his or her reality differently.

These days, some may refer to it as the Mandela Effect. But the Alter-vús of the John Titor saga seemed to involve a great many incredible things, far more than just memory.

Buildings disappearing, or popping up where they hadn’t been before. Signs changing. Strange dreams.

Disorientation on a temporal scale.

Like time being rewritten before their eyes, something wasn’t quite right.

A space shuttle repeating in a cloudy sky
Image: Flickr/studebaker2008 via CC by 2.0

Pamela, herself, claims to have dreamt about a time traveler visiting her in a car in April, 1998. She’d recorded it in a dream journal, but it wasn’t until the arrival of John Titor in 2000, and his ultimate offer to send messages to the past, that she remembered it. Thus, she believes it may have been an “alter-vú.”

And one unfortunate participant claimed he was “losing his mind,” and was allegedly never heard from again.

Did John Titor “Alter” Our Timeline?

What could explain these strange experiences? These “Alter-vús?” Were they really caused by John Titor and the messages he sent to the past?

According to Titor’s story, the messages were sent to participants in the past of an entirely different worldline. But worldlines can be close. Perhaps, like echoes (and time travelers), it’s not impossible for events in one to protrude into another.

And perhaps these alternate memories and dreams were vague glimpses into those other worldlines.

It could have, of course, also been a case of hallucination or mass hysteria. However, the experiences reportedly happened independently of one another, and no one seems to claim they were necessarily caused by Titor.

But it’s been eleven years since John Titor allegedly returned to his worldline, and like everything concerning this peculiar mythos, we’ll probably never know the true answer.


Rob Schwarz

Writer, blogger, and part-time peddler of mysterious tales. Editor-in-chief of Stranger Dimensions.

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