When you can’t control your perceptions

[If you read anything at all, skip to the end where my epiphany about The Dress is laid out 🙂 ]

The past few days in the online world have been very fascinating.  A debate (borderline war) has broken about all over the world that is all centered on this picture right here:

bluegolddressThe debate involving this dress is around what colors it is made up of.  Some people perceive the dress to be the colors gold and white (in a dark shadow) while others see it as blue and black (in a washed-out, bright light).  For others, what they see at one point changes to different colors the next time they look at it.

There are a plethora of articles explaining the science behind this phenomenon, so I am not going to even go into explaining how this kind of thing happens.  (It really was weird sitting at a table with a few other people, half of them saying the dress was blue and black and the other half saying it was white and gold).

Articles here for you nerdy people: NY Times  Wired gives a really good analysis [that I don’t even understand]

The reality behind this sensation is that the dress really is black and blue (see Wired article), which puts all the white and gold people into a tizzy.  Perhaps for the first time a mass scale of people understand what it means to be color blind.  For all you who see white and gold, your brain is compensating for whatever lighting/exposure trickery is going on in the picture (again, the non-photographer in me doesn’t really understand it all).

When I found out the true color of the dress, I was a little annoyed (and still am) because I still sometimes see a blue/gold color combination.  Even though I know the lace is black, I just don’t see it. [Epiphany begins here] It is freaky when you know something to be true but you cannot control your own reactions/perceptions!!

I got to thinking, then, about how much this concept applies to our individual perceptions of the much larger world around us.  And I can’t help but wonder how many other things I am perceiving in a way that isn’t ‘reality’.  The truth is, I am very aware of certain areas of my life where I am most probably 100% perceiving certain people/situations/places in a way that doesn’t really capture who/what/where they are at all!  And man, I don’t know about you, but that frustrates me.  I want to know the truth; I want to hear peoples’ stories for themselves; I want to avoid the ‘Empire State Building’.

Ok, so I may never seen jet black and bright blue.  I get it, my brain is one of the weird ones (at least I’m not a white?!?! and gold person).  But here’s what I think [if we are using the dress analogy still]: I know the dress is black and blue.  I don’t see it, but I know it, and I believe it.  I’m over my misconception based on one single picture floating around the internet–I know I can’t force what I think I see onto reality.

And if I cared enough [insert me beseeching you to start thinking about issues more important than the dress here] I would go out there and find that real black and blue dress and wear it until these shenanigans die down.


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