Just in case you happen to have been stranded on a remote island for the past few days, or if you’ve given up social media for Lent, there recently appeared from the depths of hell a photo of a dress taken in just the right lighting to screw with everyone’s minds. When some people look at it, they see a black and blue dress. When some people look at it, they see a white and gold dress. And then there are the rest of us who are apparently colorblind and don’t fit easily into either camp.
So, what? Why is it such a big deal? I mean, you can easily find optical illusions all over the Internet. Why has this one caused so much fuss? Why are people actually fighting over this?
Well, I have a hypothesis: Obama
. That guy’s responsible for every problem and inconvenience we in the States will ever encounter.
But, in all seriousness. I think the reason that #thedress has caused so much controversy is because people actually see what they claim to see. It isn’t that half the world is playing a prank on the other half (although that would be awesome). Rather, when people look at the same picture, they are genuinely experiencing different things.
And we just can’t handle that.
We don’t know what to do with people that genuinely see aspects of the world differently than we do. So we make up reasons why there must be something wrong with them. “They’re just playing a joke. They’re lying. They actually see what I see, but they just don’t want to admit it. They’re self-deceived.” And so on and so forth.
I mean, what do you do with someone whose experience tells them that reality different than your experience would suggest? How do you relate to someone who is just as convinced that they are right as you are convinced that you’re correct? Do you demonize them? Do you call them ignorant or stupid? Do you presume that they have a flawed experience of reality whereas you don’t?
Now take this and apply it to any number of issues. Do people who believe in evolution just want to discredit the faith of young earth creationists? Are pacifists delusional in thinking that non-violence is better equipped to handle extreme violence than militancy and Just War theory? Are parents who question vaccinations just ignorant and dumb? Do LGBs just want to be sexually immoral?
Or perhaps they know something the rest of us don’t. Perhaps they have experiences that we don’t have. Maybe they genuinely experience reality in ways that make their feelings, actions, and ideas the most reasonable. That’s not to say that reality isn’t actually one way and not the other. But before we go accusing others of being wrong for any number of supposed reasons, it might be best for us to consider that their reason and experience is just as reliable as our own.
… or maybe everyone else is just wrong, and I’m the only one that sees the dress as it truly is: green and orange.