A wonderfully Discordian media virus recently ran its course through the simultaneous resonance of our social networks, a meme so efficient and contentious that it became ubiquitous almost immediately, and can be invoked simply by saying “The Dress.” Like the mythic Apple of Discord, thrown by Eris’ to instigate a fight amongst the gods, the ambiguously hued picture sparked immediate conflict amongst its viewers, who vigorously argued about its contents. A media virus, as defined by Douglas Rushkoff, consists of a protective & sticky outer shell, and a hidden payload of memetic code. (A Trogan Horse for ideas.) The outer shell is the surface issue/face value of a meme, in this case, the question: “What color is this dress?” The adhesive shell becomes attached to a host medium and thence its memetic programming gets injected therein. This meme was particularly sticky because people could not understand how anyone could possibly disagree with, what was presumed to be, their objective observation. The memetic programming contained within the argument of “Black & Blue vs. White & Gold,” amongst all the science of perception, seems to be something akin to the zen koan: “Who is the great magician that makes the grass green?”
I think Robert Anton Wilson would have absolutely loved “The Dress,” and all the discussion about subjectivity and uncertainty that it created. Without really realizing it, the internet just got a crash course in Maybe Logic.