Ah, do you remember The Dress? It was basically the Helen of Troy of the Internet: The Dress that launched a thousand — wait, make that a billion — ships. It went from being a mind-bending optical illusion to being a mind-bending viral sensation literally overnight. Make no bones about it, The Dress created one of the biggest controversies of the year: Gold and white, or black and blue?
2015 may be quickly coming to a close, but if you think back to late February and early March of this year, you'll remember that The Dress was all anyone and everyone was talking about. It all started with a simple Tumblr post, published on February 26th, 2015 — seemingly fairly innocuous, the post featured an image, along with a poll, asking people to vote on which colors they perceived. The scene of the crime? A wedding — the poster (AKA patient zero) was a member of a folk band who happened to be playing the reception. As for The Dress itself? Why, it was worn by the mother of the bride.
Though simple in concept, something about The Dress' near-magical ability to polarize opinions made it take off like wildfire. Soon, celebrities rallied to the cause, and Twitter became a veritable battleground rife with warring hashtags #whiteandgold and #blueandblack. Some (like Anna Kendrick andB. J. Novak) swore up and down that the dress was white and gold, while others (among them, Demi Lovato and Mindy Kaling) were staunch supporters of the blue and black team. Some celebrity couples — like Kim and Kanye — were unable to agree on the matter.
Suffice it to say, everyone and their mother was talking about it — a fact definitely confirmed by its traffic metrics. Kim Kardashian once famously campaigned to #breaktheinternet with her nude Paper Magazine photoshoot, but The Dress may actually be the closest anyone (or, rather, anything) has ever been to actually achieving that particular lofty goal: In its heydey, itshattered records on viral media wellspring BuzzFeed, and did its darndest to overload the servers with traffic at unheard-of levels. The amount of active visitors quickly climbed to over 670,000, with the original post eventually garnering almost 39 million views (as of the writing of this article, anyway). The site came eerily close to crashing — but luckily, BuzzFeed's tech team was able to adjust their servers to accommodate the record number of visitors from all around the world.
Thanks in no small part to BuzzFeed's viral superpowers, the Dress had officially reached peak social relevance. Soon, it was fronting an anti-abuse campaign run by the Salvation Army. Scientists chimed in. The woman who started it all gave interviews, joking that she was "a friend of the dress." It became a pop culturally-relevant Halloween costume. It was everywhere, and as it soared to unforseen viral heights, the topic was explored in every way imaginable, and pretty much everyone with a pulse weighed in and put in their two cents.
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