#TheDress meme: “Wow” to “Kill me now” in record time

February 27, 2015 Originally published on SFGate

An ugly blue dress just set a new world record.

Did you notice? Did you care? Did you get caught up, even for a “WTF is going on?” second, in the onslaught/debate/utter madness that struck the Web – cranky ol’ Twitter in particular – like a bolt of soul-deadening lightning on the evening of February 26th, 2015?

Consider yourself blessed, if not. “The Dress” meme was, by most accounts, one of the single-most annoying, bizarre, infuriating memes to ever strike the Internet – which is saying a lot, because Republicans.

Is it blue and black or white and gold? Oh, just shut up

Is it blue and black or white and gold? Oh, just shut up

If you must know: Two random women posted a photo of a reasonably dreadful blue and black dress over on Tumblr, an otherwise completely ordinary clothing item that, due to certain refractions of light, eyeball shape and God’s palpable wrath, many humans perceived as white and gold.

And then, boom. The Internet spasmed. Planets imploded. Dogs shot bolt upright and growled. Flowers punched each other. Brain cells stopped dividing. The Devil squealed with delight as the most irritating meme in recent history caused millions to argue, debate, check their computer monitor’s color settings and scream to the heavens about whose eyeballs were “right.” It was sort of astonishing.

And there you have it. Who cares? No one cares, really. There is a glimmer of scientific curiosity regarding how the human eye perceives colors, but it’s a trivial wonder, at best. Nothing you haven’t heard before – just, you know, not quite ever hurled out to the stunned, benevolent universe in this particular way. Social media, thou art a seriously deranged mistress. And please, for all that’s holy and good, change your outfit.

Perhaps more fascinating? The speed and scale. How many millions where whipped into an argumentative, even angry frenzy, how many hundreds of thousands of words furiously spilled (including, sadly, these), how many otherwise intelligent humans are now performing the Net equivalent of the Walk of Shame – stained, smeared, hung-over, more than a little ashamed at just how weird it all became, and how quickly.

Thankfully, it’s over. The “wholesome” Arizona llamas, too (thank God). Meanwhile, semi-serious things: Net neutrality. Obama’s immigration policy. Spock died. Antarctica is not long for this world. ISIS is more brutal than ever. Republicans still openly despise you. James Inhofe, chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, is, it’s hard not to say, something of an idiot.

Can you tell the difference? Between any of those stories? Unlikely. As “The Dress” meme so viciously reminded us, it’s a lowest-common-denominator, hashtag-drunk BuzzFeed world, my loves. Everything has been reduced to its most wonderful/most awful clickbait essence. All the dramas, all the sorrows, all the joys and all the woes of the world are nothing more, and nothing less, than furious blue dresses, waiting to drive you mildly insane. Pray accordingly.

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Mark Morford

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