The Dress, And What It Says About Us

We’re living through an Internet Moment, guys. As silly as it is — and it is sort of silly — this is one of those things we’re all going to refer to down the line, like, “You remember when everybody went nuts suddenly one evening, simultaneously across the country and maybe the world, about a dress?” It’s many things, and it’s monopolizing conversation, and now that it’s a whole 24 hours old the haters are hating. Which bugs. But I’m tired and haven’t finished my first coffee for the day, so I’m not feeling very articulate about why it bugs.

Fortunately, my friend Teeter, of the truly excellent Red Rocket Farm (seriously, please go there and follow/subscribe/read, you’ll thank me) did an excellent job of articulating for me. With her permission:

Yesterday, I was super disappointed in all of you. Let’s try this again, OK? You said:

1. “I can’t believe my whole feed is about a dress. This is a waste of time.”

ARE YOU KIDDING ME? This was a phenomenon! We got to be live, random, accidental data points for a crowd-sourced experiment. We learned that the person sitting next to us could be seeing something entirely different. For a day, we all were scientists. People instinctively began experimenting to figure out why this was happening. Jason held blue light up to my eyes for 30 seconds at a time, hoping I’d see white and gold. Countless friends photoshopped dresses to try and make it look one shade or the other. It was amazing! If this was an exhibit in a cool science museum, you would go home remembering what a strange and special experience it was. I’m sorry that Facebook didn’t entertain you in the way that pleases you, but we were busy obsessing, hypothesizing, experimenting, and being all-around inquisitive minds.

2. “The dress is blue and black/white and gold! Everyone who doesn’t see it this way is an idiot!”

This is like some sort of classic 1960s college experiment meant to turn kids against each other. I see blue and black. You see white and gold. And you know what?

THAT’S SOOOOO COOL!

That’s science and brain hacking and whoa.

So before you prove that you are a bigot by saying that anyone who sees color differently than you is an idiot, think about how this might be a metaphor for understanding other points of view (or races? or religions? I mean c’mon). If you insist on calling people idiots for seeing a white and gold dress, just understand that I hold you responsible for every war anywhere ever.

3. “Don’t care what color that dress is, all I know is it is ugly.” OR “Don’t care what color that dress is, but somebody needs to learn to take a picture.”

Aaaaand we’re back to the bigotry metaphor. Okay, first of all, you shouldn’t care what color the dress is. But you should care WHY we see it different colors, because it’s healthy to have a curious mind. What’s not healthy is insulting something just because you don’t understand it. And that’s what’s happened. You’re rationalizing now “No, I was just making a joke,” but really think about that thought process. You didn’t understand it, your brain said “I’m tired, this makes me tired,” and you said “Fuck it. I’m smart. This isn’t my brain’s fault, this is this ugly-ass dress’s fault.”

So try to stop doing that. It’s super bad! Feelings of anger or disgust at things you don’t understand (or worse, choose not to understand) are not signs of a good person. And you are a good person. I like you a lot (usually).
Also, someone designed that dress, and right now they’re waking up to find it posted all over the internet. This is going to be a weird day no matter what for them, but maybe let’s not make it a day that makes them feel like the entire internet hates them.

So please return to sciencey awesomeness. Please refrain from being a giant metaphor for bigotry.