The dress is blue; tennis balls are yellow; and much like a glass can be both half-empty and half-full (because there are TWO HALVES), the audio clip is saying both “laurel” and “yanny” at the same time.
These are the molehills I have chosen to die on, because when it comes to viral illusions, it seems, you must choose a side. Enough of these divisive illusions have piled up now to make one wonder: How different is my reality from everyone else’s?
It all began in a simpler time—February 2015—on an ordinary Thursday evening when a photo of a dress posted on Tumblr got picked up by BuzzFeed. Was the dress white and gold, or blue and black? The question pitted brother against brother, friend against friend, caused celebrities to weigh in, and basically ground the internet to a halt. The dress was actually blue, but that hardly mattered. (And most people didn’t see it that way—in BuzzFeed’s original poll, 67 percent of people voted for white and gold, compared to 33 percent for blue and black.) What mattered was that the chasm between perception and reality had opened up, and we found ourselves teetering on the edge.
The Dress seemed like a fluke, a one-off moment of miraculous serendipity. Someone happened to take a photo of this specific dress just as the light was golden in that certain way that caused people to see different colors. And for a while, the internet rested. Or, well, it just fought about other things. Then more of these illusions started to appear. In 2016 there was a jacket that appeared to be different colors to different people. In 2017 there was a shoe.