I answered him. "Blue and black. Blue with black lace."
"Oh my god," he said. "I thought it was just a joke."
"What? Why, what do you see?" I said.
"White and gold. And 75% of the Internet agrees with me."
By now, you've all seen this dress. Unless you have been asleep or on some really long international flight, this image has come across your eyeballs at some point. You have formed really strong opinions about it, polled all of your friends, and now you are questioning everything you thought you knew about color.
For those who don't know (i.e. no one), this picture was posted to Tumblr, and it quickly spread across the Internet as people began arguing about what colors they were seeing. Most were seeing white and gold. A smaller minority saw blue and black. It escalated very quickly. Here are the survey results from Buzzfeed:
|The numbers were stacked against me, BUT HOW?!|
When Daniel told me that he saw this dress as gold and white, I was so taken aback. Gold and white? Where? What? You mean that the background is white, right? No, but like the reflection of the light is gold, but it's actually black, right? No. Wait. WAIT. WHAT!
While I wouldn't necessarily call myself stoic, I will say that I'm not always the easiest person to impress. However, once I saw this image, I was positively dazzled. For me, even from the very start, it was never about finding out what color the actual dress was, but rather, understanding why this phenomenon was occurring in the first place (WHICH BY THE WAY, WE STILL DON'T REALLY KNOW).
But what quickly became even more fascinating to me was how this all played out socially. Buzzfeed quickly released a hilarious post about friendships being ruined by The Dress. People started organizing teams (#WhiteAndGold #BlackAndBlue), busting out their photoshop skills, creating memes. I posted about it on my personal Facebook account and I was so blown away by the variety of responses. There were those who believed it was a GIF (sorry folks, it was a JPG). There were those who posted four paragraph descriptions of how cones work in our eyes. There were others still who began posting vehemently about the actual retail dress (which was indeed unmistakably blue). Regardless of whatever new information emerged, people were indignant about the superiority of their color opinion.
For the most part, the larger conversation essentially looked like this: "You are crazy, it's white and gold." "YOU are crazy, it's blue and black."
It seemed that each side became so singularly focused on invalidating the other side's experience that we neglected the fact that something AMAZING was happening. The whole phenomenon was a unique human event. Just ask color vision researcher Dr. Jay Nietz who, according to his interview in Vice, still has no explanation for it. He hilariously remarked, "I thought I was going to cure blindness, but now I guess I'll do this."
Yet as the Internet so often does, we turned it into a polarizing argument of who was actually "right," and this is where things went from being super fun to being kind of a bummer. Because the truth is, no one is right. And also everyone is right. We each have had a different experience with this image, and maybe we should just celebrate that. On some level, it's actually kind of beautiful.
And I don't know, I probably shouldn't take this metaphor too far, but meh, what the hell? I, for one, think the dress served to teach us a lesson that we so often neglect to remember: we are people who see the world differently. It's not just this dumb dress. Every aspect of our worldview has been colored with our own experiences. And perhaps instead of admonishing each other for seeing the world a different way, we should seek to understand each other better. We should ask questions, tune into our differences, and get excited about the fact that they exist. Without foregoing our beliefs, we can still keep ourselves from crapping on everyone else's.
At one point last night, suddenly and without warning, I saw The Dress as gold and white. From what I understand, this happened to a lot of people. For me, it was kind of a nauseating feeling to suddenly see this image so differently, but it was also really thrilling. It went back to black and blue almost immediately, but I'll never forget what it was like to actually see what my friends were seeing.
Soooo...let's see the dress from both sides, folks. The metaphorical dress, that is. See whatever you want to see in that dumb picture.
Yours in Black and Blue,