A blue and black dress went viral and acquired a memetic status overnight, after user “swiked” has placed it in her Tumblr account asking what color it was. This photo immediately divided people into two camps: one claims it to be white and gold, while others are sure it is blue and black. According to the author of the photo, in reality it is a blue and black dress, which only adds to the confusion.
At first, swiked was fascinated and tried to keep up with comments for a couple of hours, but then the argument really got out of hand. According to the Inquisitr, a number of people expressed their disgust with social media users, for whom the color of this dress is just as newsworthy information as an Ebola epidemic.
“It seems that a mere two weeks after the initial shock that such a virus was sweeping its way across Africa and even making its way to the United States and the U.K., the news suddenly ceased. It was replaced with news of Syria, which was also short-lived. Now after two days the trends are paying a little less attention to the blue and black dress and a lot more attention to the Ebola virus which is still very much an issue”.
And it really was treated as a newsworthy event by many: the original post got almost 16 million likes in two days, social media got torn between two camps ready to tear each other’s throats out, people played with the image in Photoshop trying to find out what’s the deal with it, and so on. A number of explanations were offered, ranging from purely scientific to utterly mystical.
The truth, however, is very simple – the problem is not with the image but with the way human eye processes color, according to Wired.
“What’s happening here is your visual system is looking at this thing, and you’re trying to discount the chromatic bias of the daylight axis,” says Bevil Conway, a neuroscientist who studies color and vision at Wellesley College. “So people either discount the blue side, in which case they end up seeing white and gold, or discount the gold side, in which case they end up with blue and black.”
However, it really doesn’t matter what color the presumably blue and black dress is – it is more of an excellent illustration of how social media can turn even the most mundane happening into something that will attract the undivided attention of the entire Internet for days on end.