The influential and viral nature of the 21st century Internet was on full display Thursday night, and not necessarily in the best way. Ironically, it happened the same day the Federal Communications Commission voted to protect net neutrality, thereby preserving people’s ability to say essentially whatever they want on the Internet. They might want to think again.
#Dressgate was so infuriating that it kind of made me wish our Internet was as heavily regulated as Russian society was during the Cold War. And I mean under Stalin, not Kruschev.
Reports state that its origin began when a Scottish musician, whose band was booked to play at an upcoming wedding, received a photograph from her mother of the dress she was preparing to wear.
The nature of the photograph is what sparked the debate. As you can see, it’s a highly overexposed, poor quality photo manipulated by sunlight that makes it a little difficult to tell what color the dress is.
But the phenomena that’s intrigued so many is that it causes two groups of people to see two distinct images: a gold and white dress; or a blue and black dress.
The Scottish singer, Caitlin McNeill, posted the photograph of the dress onto social media, asking what color it is. Within hours, the photo spread like wildfire, with Internet users across the world posing the same question.
By Friday morning, my entire Facebook Newsfeed was littered with people talking about this dress. Internationally famous singers Taylor Swift to Katy Perry to 2016 presidential candidate Jeb Bush chimed in. The New York Times wrote about it. Hell, I went to an Echosmith concert on Friday night in Manhattan, and between songs, lead singer Sydney Sierota told us what color she believed the dress was.
The startling thing was not just how quickly the “controversy” started, but how big of a divide it created. One minute on Thursday, the dress didn’t exist. An hour later, every one in the world (who uses the Internet) not only knew about it and had an opinion on it, but was split into two factions: the blue and black crew, or the gold and white.
I’ll admit there were some pretty good memes that spawned from this, but here’s the funniest tweet I saw regarding the situation: “Grandpa: ‘We stormed the beach. Bullets flew by my head. I held my dying best friend in my arms.’ Grandson: ‘I lived through Dress Twitter.'”
My thoughts? It’s amazing to me that people spent more than five minutes of their lives obsessing over this.
Without sounding pretentious, it was always obvious to me why this was happening, and it all relates to the poor resolution of the original photograph. Color is an abstract concept; it’s all about visual perception.
People’s rods and cones in their eyes all work their own unique ways, hence why some people have good eyesight, and why others don’t. This dress photo, however, just proved to be a very neat example of how extremely subtle differences in eyesight caused people to see two distinct images.
The dress, by the way, has already been proven to be blue and black.
I see gold and white. But I understand that the dress is clearly blue and black, and that the distorted image makes it appear gold and white to me. What I’ve gathered through my own observations is that people who have superior eyesight see blue and black, and those who require visual augmentation see gold and white.
Either way, nobody is wrong, regardless of what color the dress is. Again, eyesight is visual perception. What you see is what you see. If a colorblind person looked at the photo and said the dress is silver and grey, would you tell them they are wrong?
Of course not, because colorblindness is univerally understood. How ocular biology shapes how people with “normal” eyesight interpret color when manipulated by light, however, is not universally understood, and hence the worldwide confusion.
The biggest winner of this? The company that makes the dress. Sales surged following #Dressgates.
The biggest loser of this?