Sometimes our brains just stop functioning and we do some seriously bizarre stuff. Probably all of us have heard of or experienced ‘brain farts’ or ‘brain.exe stopped working,’ and the results of the phenomena are usually pretty strange and hilarious. That is why after this Redditor asked: “What is the most bizarre thing you’ve caught yourself doing after your brain’s autopilot misfired?” it resulted in some amazing and engaging stories.
People shared loads of amazing examples about this topic, from leaving things in the fridge, to getting ready for high school when they’re all grown up. Do you have any brain farts to share? Please do so in the comment section below! And if you’re interested in more of this type of content click here.
Cup of coffee in left hand, phone in the right hand. Go to my room, take a sip of my phone and throw coffee on the bed.
Image credits: Concentrix
We talked to Dr. Gleb Tsipursky about this topic and he gave some amazing insights: “Researchers have discovered that we have, roughly speaking, two systems that determine our mental processes: the ‘autopilot system’ and ‘intentional system.’ The autopilot system corresponds to our emotions and intuitions. This system evolved to help us survive in the ancestral savanna environment and mostly relies on the amygdala, the older part of the brain. It guides our daily habits, helps us make snap decisions, and reacts instantly to dangerous life-and-death situations. The snap judgments resulting from intuitions and emotions usually feel ‘true’ and ‘right’ precisely because they are fast and powerful. We feel very comfortable when we go with them. Decisions arising from our gut reactions are indeed often right in those situations that resemble the ancient savanna.”
Turned around and went back home because I forgot my car keys.
I was driving.
Image credits: anon
I used to work at McDonald’s drive-thru. 5 days a week, 8hrs a day; so I had been hard-wired to say, “Welcome to McDonald’s. How can I help you today?” Every single time I heard the headset beep. Straight-up Pavlovian.
One day there was a particularly wily fly that was always just a second ahead of me. I became very focused on killing this fly.
I don’t know how many times I said it before a coworker finally stopped laughing long enough to tell me, but it turns out I’d been saying “Welcome to McDonald’s. How can I kill you today?” To every car in the drive-thru.
Not one customer even paused or acknowledged the fact that Ronald McDonald threatened them with murder. They just wanted their goddamn nuggets.
However, Dr. Gleb shared that the ‘autopilot’ isn’t really necessary anymore: “Unfortunately, in too many cases they’re wrong. Our modern environments have many elements that are unlike the savanna. With growing technological disruption, ranging from teleconferences to social media, our modern world looks less and less like our ancestral environment. The autopilot system will therefore increasingly lead us to make disastrous decisions, in systematic and predictable ways, which are called cognitive biases.”
I sat there at an intersection in suburban Palo Alto at 11PM, patiently waiting for the stop sign to change.
Image credits: anon
When I was in high school and living on the family farm, I used to feed the horses and barn cats every morning. Waking up at 6am for this as a 16 year old guaranteed that I was half asleep. So, I grabbed the cat food like I always did, walked to the table where my cat’s bowl was like I always did, and poured some in. My cat always jumped up on the table right away to start eating right away, and one morning as something jumped up in front of me I absentmindedly pet it as usual. The hair felt a little rough so I looked down and instead of my friendly orange cat, there was a skunk. Just chilling there eating the cat food while I pet its back.
Image credits: danseaman6
Dr. Gleb explains the intentional system in our brains that contrasts the autopilot: “The intentional system, by contrast, reflects rational and analytical thinking. It centers around the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain that evolved more recently. This thinking system helps us handle more complex mental activities, such as managing individual and group relationships, logical reasoning, abstract thinking, evaluating probabilities, and learning new information, skills, and habits. While the automatic system requires no conscious effort to function, using the intentional system requires a deliberate effort to and is mentally tiring. Fortunately, with enough motivation and appropriate training, you can learn to turn on the intentional system in situations where the autopilot system is prone to make systematic and predictable errors.”
As a teenager, I worked at McDonald’s. My McDonald’s was 24 hours and, during the summer, I worked the overnight shift. My sleep schedule would get all messed up.
My parents woke me up for dinner one evening. I zombie walked to the table and sat down. My dad asked me to say grace. I bow my head and say, “thank you for choosing McDonald’s, may I take your order?”
Image credits: arndta
I took the metro home then realized i drove to work.. that was a long night.
Image credits: FecesInYourFaces
“We tend to think of ourselves as rational thinkers, usually using the intentional system. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. The autopilot system is by far the more powerful of the two systems, determining 80-90 percent of what we do, think, feel, and decide. Our emotions often overwhelm our reason. Moreover, our intuition and habits dominate the majority of our lives. We’re usually in autopilot mode. That’s not a bad thing at all, as it would be mentally exhausting to think through our every action and decision. However, it’s bad when this system makes the same errors, again and again. Fortunately, you can use your intentional system to interrupt these errors. You can change your automatic thinking, feeling, and behavior patterns to avoid mental blind spots.”
I made the best ever chicken stock, lovingly simmered for 24 hours. Then, without thinking, I put the colander in the sink and tipped the stock down the drain, saving the scraps. I cried.
Image credits: pedazzle
1. Unwrap candy.
2. Throw candy in trash
3. Stare at wrapper
Image credits: DIDNT_READ_YOUR_SHIT
All in all, both of these parts of our brain are quite important: “It’s crucial to recognize that these two systems of thinking are counterintuitive. They don’t align with our conscious self-perception. Your mind feels like a cohesive whole. Unfortunately, this self-perception is simply a comfortable myth that helps you make it through the day. There is no actual ‘there’ there; your sense of self is a construct that results from multiple complex mental processes within the autopilot and intentional system. When I first found that out, it blew my mind (every part of it). It takes a bit of time to incorporate this realization into your mental model of yourself and others, in other words, how you perceive your mind to work. Bottom line is that you’re not who you think you are.”
Was jogging late at night. A guy reached out his hand in front of me as I passed.
I high-fived him.
Turns out he was hailing a taxi.
Image credits: Derped_my_pants
I dropped my pants when going through TSA….For those who fly in the super early morning it can be rough. I purposely didn’t drink coffee so I could sleep on the plane…
I was on the security line, and did the normal routine of taking stuff out of my pockets and putting them in my laptop bag. Then off with the shoes, placed on top of my luggage, then off comes the belt as usual. Then of course when you take off your belt you take off your pants…..uhhh Nope damnit. Put them back on and WTFed for a moment as I finished up in security. Luckily not *that many* people fly at like 430am.
Image credits: anon
We also spoke to Instagram account Psychology Facts (we made an article about them which you can check out by clicking here) and they also shared their insights on this topic: “The human brain’s autopilot system, also known as the default mode network, can sometimes lead to bizarre or unexpected behavior. The default mode network is a group of brain regions that are active when an individual is not focused on a specific task. It is thought to play a role in self-reflection, planning, and daydreaming. When the default mode network is active, an individual may find themselves engaging in behaviors that seem unusual or unexpected to others, as their brain is not fully focused on the present moment.”
I woke up from a deep sleep having the feeling that there was an earthquake going on so naturally I call to my wife who I realized was in the living room reading and asked her if everything was okay and she asked why? I said there was just an earthquake is everything okay she said no you just farted in your sleep and woke yourself up. I went back to bed….
Rubbed aftershave in my hair and put gel on my face.
The worst part was that after I put the aftershave in my hair, I laughed at myself, thought, “F**k, what was all that about?” and then added the hair gel to my skin.
Image credits: MisterEvilBreakfast
“For example, someone might find themselves absentmindedly walking into a room and forgetting why they went there, or getting lost in thought while driving and missing their turn. These behaviors can be a result of the brain’s autopilot system misfiring, as the individual’s attention is not fully on the task at hand.”
Tapped a picture in the newspaper hoping to see the full article. Took me a good 5 seconds to realize where I messed up.
Drove to work and realized when I got to the parking lot that I forgot to drop the kids at school. The kids knew too and stayed quiet thinking they’d get to miss school. Love those sneaky little devils.
They also shared their own personal experience with autopilot: “The most bizarre thing I’ve caught myself doing after my brain’s autopilot misfired was when I was still in high school. I was in a classroom and everyone was dead silent because we were working on our homework, and most of us wore earbuds and listened to music while working. I remember listening to ‘Black and Yellow’ from Wiz Khalifa, which I apparently found an incredible song as a 12-year-old, because I remember that out of nowhere, I started singing along loud and clear with the chorus. I did this for around 5 seconds before I noticed everyone was staring at me, and I should probably stop distracting the rest of the class.”
Night before last, I went to the back yard to bring the dog into the house. Autopilot moved my feet 10 or so steps out the door, telling the “dog” to come in. My brain then caught up and remembered the dog was in bed and I was indeed approaching a black bear that was eating watermelon rinds from the trash can.
Image credits: warwatch
The two that come to mind are while playing XBOX I got up to get a drink, then sit back down and can’t find my freaking controller. I’m tearing cushions apart, looking under stuff, looking in drawers, etc. Turns out I took a soda out of the fridge and put the controller in the spot I took it from.
The other one happened the other day. Drove home from work, parked, went upstairs, opened the door, started to take off shirt. Then I remembered it was the middle of my shift and I hadn’t left to go home, but just go buy a drink.
Image credits: KMApok
“It’s important to note that the default mode network serves important functions in the brain, and it is not always a negative thing when it is active. The human brain’s autopilot system serves a number of important functions in the brain that help to support mental health and well-being. It allows individuals to take a break from the demands of the outside world and engage in activities that support self-reflection, planning, and creativity. While the default mode network can sometimes lead to unexpected or bizarre behavior when it causes an individual to become disengaged from their surroundings, it serves important functions in the brain and is not always a negative thing when it is active.”
Once I was laying in bed very tired watching tv. All the characters on the show piled into a car together, and I thought for a second “s**t I forgot to put my seatbelt on” before realizing I was safely in bed and no where near a car.
Image credits: athena94
I was playing guitar and reached to grab a cracker, then I ate my pick.
Image credits: A-Perfect-Triangle
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Jumped out of bed frantically. Put my clothes on. Brushed all the s**t on my floor under my bed..paused. And realised its 3am in the morning and I don’t have school. I’m 23.
Image credits: anon
I had a very long day of computer drafting, think +12 hours sitting and staring at .5mm lines, and got really lost so I asked the person next to me what the hell I did wrong because they seemed like they would absolutely have the explanation. I got most of the way through the answer before I realized not only had I asked my frazzled reflection a question, but I also calmly and matter-of-factly responded. I went home after that.
My sister had a brain fart and left the water running in the kitchen.
I went to turn it off, and flipped the kitchen light switch. Repeatedly. Then started cussing when the switch wouldn’t cut the water off. Then got my tool box and started taking the faceplate off the light switch so I could see why it wasn’t cutting the water off.
At that point my other sister, who witnessed all of this, kindly pointed out that I had lost my ever loving mind and cut the water off herself.
After an 8 hour day of cashiering at Target(which has so many robotic-small talk conversations), I stopped at the dollar store. The conversation went something like:
Cashier: Hi, how are you?
Me: Good, how are you?
Cashier: I’m good, thanks.
Me: That’s good. Did you find everything okay today?
That conversation was had to the effect of everyone in line and the cashier looking at me like I was psycho.
edit: I’m glad I’m not the only one who’s done awk things on cashier autopilot! And thanks for the gold!
Image credits: anon
When I was around 13 or 14 I woke up in the middle of the night, in my own bed and room, and thought to myself: I need to go home before my parents realize I’m not home. So I sneak out of the house, part of me obviously aware that my parents were sleeping and I needed to be quiet, and walked a block away. Then I realized I had been in my own room and just thought what the hell am I doing. So I walked back and snuck back into bed. So weird
Image credits: marleylovestrees
There was a 6.0 earthquake at about 3 am so i was asleep. The quake lasted 20 seconds and I woke up about 16 seconds in standing in the hallway hugging a vase. What the f**k.
Image credits: ApacheFYC
The night before my very first day at work where I have to bring my own lunch. I got all the ingredients out to make my sandwich for tomorrow and immediately after I made it I walked into the living room turned on the tv and ate it.
Came into work to work front of house after several extended nights of profound insomnia. I was holding up ok until a gal walks up with a dog in her arms. I always chat people up about their dogs because A. Dogs are awesome and B. people love to talk about their dogs, and often tip a little more when they feel like they’ve actually connected with you.
Today though… I didn’t have two neurons to rub together to break from the script of “hey what can I get you… here’s your total… do you want a receipt?” and so I lean over the counter like a drunk, lock my sleep-starved, unfocused googly eyes on this poor lady, and blurt out-
“your dog. Who is he” and then expectantly stare at her like that was a normal and not at all insane thing that I just kinda vomited at her. She kinda stared at me and clutched her dog a little closer and I think I probably went a little cross-eyed and tried to salvage the conversation by talking more. I don’t remember what I said but it was definitely not an improvement on the situation. It may not have even been a coherent sentence.
I once got my car impounded via brain-autopilot.
I lived across the street from a gas station and didn’t drive very often. Once I was filling it up, went inside to buy something, forgot I was getting gas, and walked home.
A few days later I reported my car stolen since I couldn’t find it in the apartment garage. About a month later I get a call from the police, saying my car had gone up for auction and only then was it discovered it had been reported stolen. I had to pay about $1500 in impound fees to get it back.
Definitely one of the dumbest things I’ve ever done.
Tried to turn the sun off.
Bad hangover, opened my back door, feeling for the light switch.
No light switch, the light was day.
Image credits: mauxly
Walked into the bathroom at work to pee, and instead of unzipping my fly, I unbuttoned my dress shirt, took it off, then took off my white undershirt as well. Then realized I was standing shirtless at a urinal and wtf’d.
Image credits: ghettoeskimo
I meant to put a brand new roll of toilet paper on the roll and instead just plopped it in the toilet.
Image credits: anon
Trying to get into a random person’s car because I thought it was my friend’s. The person whose car I was attempting to break into was very terrified.
Image credits: Rock-Facts
Let’s just say that now whenever I’m looking for my phone, the first thing I check is to see if it’s currently in my hands.
Put cat food in the coffee maker. 10/10 would not recommend.
Grabbed milk from the fridge
Grabbed a dinner plate from the cupboard
Began tilting the gallon jug toward the dish
Was about to pour myself a plate of milk when my mom walks by and asks what the f**k I’m doing
Applying deodorant on my armpit with my shirt still on.
I was trimming a raw chicken breast and saw a spider in my kitchen. I screamed and immediately threw the chicken breast at the spider and embedded it in the meat. Whoops.
Edit: to those asking if I ate the chicken breast afterwards: I forgot to mention that the spider was on the floor.
I picked up my toothbrush to brush my teeth but I also had the urge to p**s, so I obviously toss my toothbrush into the toilet.
Image credits: anon
Swished my mouthwash for a solid 30 seconds and then just spit it on the floor where I was standing.
Drove 20 min to my old house after I moved..was just zoning out
Image credits: MycoBro
Vigorously picking my nose while holding a cigarette and driving; crammed lit cigarette up my nose.
I found myself taking a bath with all my clothes on.
Never told anyone. Just went back to sleep.
I was getting ready for work and had a contact in one hand and a vitamin in the other. Popped the contact in my mouth and washed it down with a glass of water. I’m sure the stomach acid took care of it.
Image credits: anon
I tried to mail my buddy a check, and it had been a while since I mailed anything. Long enough to forget how mail works apparently. What I did was I wrote my name and address in the center, and his name in the upper left hand corner. The letter then got returned to me. But still, my first thought wasn’t, whoops, I failed at mailing this check. Instead it was, well I guess this stamp is old, and the price of stamps went up. So I put another stamp on it and sent it again, to myself, again. My mailman must think I’m r******d.
Image credits: Shaw-Deez
Turned up at work with the landline phone and my toddler’s lunch.
I was making ramen noodles and a pitcher of crystal light at the same time. Berry flavored ramen is….not good.
Image credits: SalsaPicanteMasFina
Painting a picture, take a drink from the paint brush water instead of my coffee.
I am currently at university and live on the fifth floor of a dormitory. All the floors are identical other than the colors of the paint on the wall. One day I was taking the elevator up to the fifth floor and I was sending a text to my mother. When I arrived at my floor a person I had never seen before got on the elevator. I consciously noted that it was weird because I knew everyone on my floor, but I walked to my room and walked in. My living room seemed slightly off and then a girl walked into the living room and casually goes, “what are you doing in my room.” That’s when I realized I had gotten off on an earlier floor and I just absentmindedly walked into someone else’s room. Needless to say I got out of that room really fast after realizing what I had done.
Image credits: anon
Leaving work, I had my hat in one hand and cell phone in the other. Something misfired and I put the cell phone on my head and hat in my pocket. There was a flashing realization that something wasn’t right while standing their holding a phone to my bald spot and sporting a look of bewilderment.
I wish someone had seen it.
it was 2am and way past bedtime, and I’d pulled an all nighter the previous night too. while finally clearing the table I was playing video games on, I decided to put all the water bottles away that had been out for days and days. I tossed the empty ones but my cat was being rambunctious and trying to open the trash can, so I picked her up.
I was holding my cat and putting some unfinished water bottles back in the fridge. she struggled free and hopped onto the counter but I was too tired to scold her so I continued grabbing huge amounts (6 or 7 at a time, both hands) of half-full water bottles from the counter and into the fridge
I pick them up, I put them in the fridge, I pick them up, i put them in the fridge, I pick her up. I put her in the fridge. I close the fridge. I take two minutes to finish up the dishes. I turn off the kitchen light. I hear faint mewing. I wake up. I open the fridge. she is so cold, but she is okay.
now every time I open the f*****g fridge she climbs in. sometimes I don’t notice her and she’s trapped for a moment until I hear mewing. and I know it’s all my fault.
(edit to clarify that I don’t just start new water bottles halfway thru. it’s over days and days)
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Author: Ilona Baliūnaitė