Ad-dress-ing social media phenomena

On February 27, a Tumblr user posted a picture of a dress and asked her followers if it was black and blue or white and gold. Within a half hour, her post received over 500 likes and incited a massive social reaction, with celebrities tweeting and thousands retweeting and posting their own opinions on Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr. The whole ordeal lasted more than three hours, with further posts the following day.

Many news sources confirmed that the dress, in real life, is in fact black and blue, not white and gold. However, in the picture, the discrepancy among these millions of viewers is due to color constancy, which is the subjectiveness of human color perception under different illumination conditions. Like an optical illusion, the lighting of the picture changed people’s color identification.

Almost all the members of The Poly knew about this dress a couple hours after the picture was posted. Even we have differing opinions on what we see in the photo; however, we find the social phenomenon itself more interesting. The post sparked articles from The New York Times, CNN, and The Washington Post. It’s crazy to think about how something as simple as the color of a dress could spark so much controversy.

Social media has a profound effect on society today, and just like this dress, almost anything can go viral in a matter of hours. Whether it be the next amazing ski video or another green and purple dress, social media increases the accessibility of content to everyone. This is why The Poly created a social media coordinator position last semester.