don't embarrass me in front of my mom you guys!
April 3, 2010 7:39 PM   Subscribe

What is this phenomenon? It isn't synchronicity, baader-meinhoff, or confirmation bias.

My mom swears she heard a story on NPR last weekend about a pop culture phenomenon describing 'like a literary device, a whole trend, that once you start looking for this thing, you see it everywhere, and it happens in classical literature and movies.' The person being interviewed was a man. She thinks she heard it during On the Media, but we checked the archives and can't find it.

As you can see, not the easiest thing to Google, so I swore to her that the Hive Mind would find the answer.
posted by kidsleepy to Grab Bag (18 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
posted by lysimache at 7:42 PM on April 3, 2010

Sounds a lot like baader-meinhoff to me. People like to come up with new names for it all the time (indeed, baader-meinhoff is a somewhat random name itself).
posted by delmoi at 7:47 PM on April 3, 2010

posted by 517 at 7:48 PM on April 3, 2010

Wow, this very question has been troubling me on and off for years, and I was vaguely considering devoting an to it. So thanks! I obviously don't know the answer, but have a clue:

In my undergraduate social psychology class, my professor lectured on this and used a bicycle as an apparently classic example: when you first buy a bicycle, you suddenly see bicycles everywhere, as if they were suddenly highlighted-- they "jump off the page."

I know people are going to say confirmation bias, but this is different, because it's not about preconceptions... it's just a sudden attention to something that used to blend in.
posted by charmcityblues at 7:48 PM on April 3, 2010

Response by poster: Not a meme.

She says she definitely heard it on NPR (it's the only radio station she listens too). It was a full story about this trend, and there was a simple word or phrase for this trend.
posted by kidsleepy at 7:50 PM on April 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

This is an archetype. Some examples include star-crossed lovers (Romeo and Juliet), the tragic hero (any with a fatal flaw-superman, etc), and the underdog or unwilling hero (Frodo Baggins).
posted by mcarlson85 at 7:53 PM on April 3, 2010

I call it the 23/17 phenomenon. Once you've learned that 23 can be related to everything, you start noticing that it is related to everything. By extension, this applies to anything else similar.

For instance, did you realize that the Ghost Army, a very weird and secret organization, was the 23rd Headquarters Special Troops?
posted by Netzapper at 7:53 PM on April 3, 2010

Confirmation Bias
posted by SLC Mom at 8:00 PM on April 3, 2010

This isn't an archetype, I think the OP is referring to a more personal experience than that. I noticed it when I was building a house - the whole time I was working on my chimney, I noticed chimneys everywhere, then when I was drywalling, I noticed all the drywall in the world, etc. It can apply to anything as it is projected from the mind of the person experiencing the phenomenon, thus (I think), it's different than an archetype. However not only do I not know what it's called, I didn't even know it had a name.
posted by crazylegs at 8:02 PM on April 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

This reminds me of the idea as a kid that when you learn a new word, you suddenly hear it used in the next day or two.
posted by fantasticninety at 8:09 PM on April 3, 2010

Best answer: We found it!

Tropes Galore
March 19, 2010

The website catalogs some 20,000 plot devices and dialog conventions that show up throughout pop culture. Freelance writer Zachary Pincus-Roth explains that the wiki-structure of the site has allowed contributors to identify some bizarre and hilarious tropes.
posted by kidsleepy at 8:10 PM on April 3, 2010 [4 favorites]

So the word you were looking for is "trope," then? I guess that makes sense. Now I must resists the urge to browse through
posted by mbrubeck at 9:24 PM on April 3, 2010

Same here mrbrubeck.

When you said "meme" to your mom did she say "No, but it sounds like that word, sort of."

GREAT... now I'm going to be seeing tropes every for the next two weeks.
posted by smallerdemon at 9:35 PM on April 3, 2010

Related: posted to the Blue in 2004 and 2007.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 9:41 PM on April 3, 2010

Can someone explain to me what the Red Army Faction has to do with this? I'm seriously confused.
posted by Justinian at 10:17 PM on April 3, 2010

Can someone explain to me what the Red Army Faction has to do with this? I'm seriously confused.

Someone, somewhere, sometime, (if you want details you'll have to write your own AskMeFi, I can't remember) read something about this German extremist group for (what he felt) was the very first time, and learned their original name was Baader-Meinhoff. After that first awareness, it seemed that he came across the group in a lot of places. Whoever this was wrote about the experience and, for lack of a better name (although, I'd think their were thousands and thousands of better possibilities myself), he called this sub-set of synchronicity, Baader-Meinhoff.
posted by Some1 at 10:54 PM on April 3, 2010

This kind of thing goes way overboard during a psychotic episode.
posted by marble at 11:49 PM on April 3, 2010

I've always known this as Blue Car Syndrome.
posted by benzo8 at 3:28 AM on April 4, 2010

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