All the important lessons I learned from #DressGate
I woke up yesterday morning thinking the day would be no different from any other — boy was I wrong! Yesterday, February 26, was a day that would go down in history (or at least be buzzed about the rest of this week). In case any of you who managed to miss the #DressGate drama that went down yesterday, here’s a summary: Basically, a girl posted a picture of a dress on Tumblr, netizens split into two sides fighting over its color, and the internet nearly imploded. The dress (please don’t hate me for this) was blue and black, but due to the lighting, and the fascinating biology of the human eye, more than half the world initially saw the dress as gold and white. (75% according to a BuzzFeed poll).
This dress (as well as a couple of crazy llamas and an unfortunate Vine of Madonna) filled my newsfeed on every form of social media, and I was so sure that it was white and gold. I joined the masses and took my stance in the debate, finding all sorts of evidence (which turned out to be false), but then after so many hours of relentlessly trying to make everybody else see what I saw, something crazy happened: The dress changed color (or at least my perception of it did). There I sat, getting endless notifications in response to my insistence that the dress was white and gold, and suddenly that wasn’t true, even to me.
I’m sure many people could (and will) shrug this off as a cool illusion, but I can’t help but dive into deep contemplation over the whole thing. So, without further adieu, here are a few very important things we can take from the dress debate of 2015:
1. People are passionate about what they believe; no matter what that is.
Most statuses about #TheDress can be split into one of three categories: white and gold, blue and black, and ‘don’t care.’ The answer to that question is, us. We care. You know, the millions, yes millions, of people tweeting and Facebooking, and proclaiming to the whole Internet what we believe? As the wonderful Mindy Kaling put it:
2. We need to respect what people believe — no matter what that is.
If you are one of the many people who got really intense about this issue (*cough* ME), you understand the frustration of it all. For some reason we feel the need to make all of humanity agree with us. The people on the other side of the debate felt the same frustration though, and although many offices, classes, and families temporarily split in two over the issue, really we were all equally confused. When you were thinking. “How could anyone possibly see that?”, the people on the other side were thinking it, too. That doesn’t mean you have to agree, or even necessarily understand where the other person is coming from, you simply need to respect it.
3. It is possible to live in a world with differing opinions.
Okay, so maybe we got a little distracted from everything else in the world because of this dress, but in the end, nobody died over their perception of the dress and no relationships were permanently destroyed (I hope) because of this dress. Yes, I know the dress debate seems silly now, but in the moment, it was epic. So why, if we can learn to get along whether on Team Blue or Team White, can we not apply the same principle to every single other difference between humans and get along?
4. People love to be part of a community.
What was the first thing most of us did when we found out about this debate? We asked everyone around us what they thought, desperate to find somebody else who shared our opinion. It’s in times like these that the Internet finds this weird sense of camaraderie, when we can say, “Hey, random stranger. I know nothing about you, but I know we have this in common, so let’s be in this together.” If we can find a sense of community from a dress, then we’re pretty much willing to bond over anything.
5. People love to argue.
I think the very fact that I’m writing about this speaks to this truth. I don’t know why. I don’t know where we find the energy, but if an opportunity to take sides arises — especially on the Internet — we are quick to make our opinions known. As long as we can keep things friendly, that’s okay. But again, if the world can split into heated debate over the color of a dress, that proves we’ll argue about pretty much anything.
6. We should never be so certain of ourselves that we become closed-minded.
The French philosopher, Descartes, once said, “In order to determine whether we can know anything with certainty, we first have to doubt everything we know.”
It didn’t matter how much scientific evidence I read, or how many people decided that the dress was, in fact, blue and black, even when I understood logically in my mind that this was the case, I stood firmly on the side of #WhiteAndGold. And then I was proved wrong, by perhaps the only person I would believe: myself. I was so sure, but I was wrong. How often do we refuse to listen because we’ve already decided we’re right?
7. Seeing is not believing.
Admittedly, I’ve never believed that seeing is believing, but in case you needed some more proof of that fact, this dress makes the point pretty well. I, along with many others, saw gold and white. Does that mean that the dress is actually magical and color-changing because we know what we saw? No. It means it wasn’t necessarily what it appeared to be, and that’s okay.
8. The Internet is one of the most powerful tools at our disposal.
It took what, a day for half of the world to have seen and formed an opinion about the infamous dress? When things go viral, we get a wonderful reminder that we have the whole world around us, and we can communicate throughout it in all different languages and cultures with just the push of a button. It’s amazing and always worth remembering.
9. We are never finished learning.
Scientifically, we got to the bottom of this pretty quickly, but personally, I learned something new about science yesterday, as did many people. #DressGate turned everyone on the Internet into a passionate student of science, and that’s actually pretty cool.
10. Hashtags are simultaneously the best and worst thing to ever happen to the Internet.
The second thing we did, after checking with everyone anywhere near us what they thought, was make sure the whole world knew about our opinions via Twitter, Facebook, or Tumblr. Celebrities were quick to join the battle as well, cracking jokes, getting mad, and having fun with it.
Another big lesson from #DressGate: It’s good for business. The buyer and designer for the company that sold the dress was on CNN this morning wearing it. Sales of the BLACK AND BLUE item are up 347%. Caitlin, the girl who initially posted the picture, has since gained over 4,000 followers on Tumblr, and many houses were divided. I hope we can all put aside our differences about this dress for the good of mankind, but we definitely got some fun out of it (before some people got sick of it that is). As my mother suggested, why don’t we just burn it and all agree that it’s a little black dress?