You’ve likely heard about It by now. In fact, you’re probably even sick of hearing about it. It’s a dress that has suddenly become so popular, it’s the dress. Or more precisely, #TheDress.
Just in case you’ve been hiding under a rock for the past couple of days, “The Dress” broke the Internet on Thursday night. Is it black and blue, washed out from overexposure? Is it white and gold with a blue tint due to bad lighting?
A digital war ensued. Polls were cast. Science was consulted. “Team white and gold” seemed to be winning in the court of popular opinion but “experts” were trending toward blue and black. Ellen summed up the situation best:
— Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) February 27, 2015
It seemed the world was locked in a digital stalemate.
But then something happened. After several hours of #TeamWhiteAndGold and #TeamBlueAndBlack digitally duking it out on social media, a “friend of the dress” came forward with additional information. The debate was settled.
The debate over “the dress” revealed a prevailing problem with our culture. The story went viral because it meshes so well with how we like to do things. For a time, there was no right answer. Everyone gets an opinion, and everyone’s opinion was valid. Is it really black and blue? Is it really white and gold? Who knows. It might look blue and black to some, and it might look white and gold to others. No one is right, and no one is wrong. It’s our relativistic culture summed up in a bad-quality photo.
The problem is that it never ends that way. We all like to have an opinion. We all like to never be wrong. It’s great for the ego. “That may not work for me, but it can work for you” is the ethos of the 21st century. But the problem is that’s not how life really works. The dress couldn’t be both white and blue at the same time, even if – like me – you saw it both ways at different times.
Bottom line: there’s a real dress, and it’s blue and black. Sorry, “team white and gold,” but you were wrong. (If it makes you feel any better, I thought it was white and gold at first too.)
And that’s the problem with relativism. “There is no absolute truth” is a lie, and it’s an oxymoron on top of that. Some things are always right and some things are always wrong. As much as we like to make everything into an issue, not every issue has two legitimate sides.
That’s not a popular view because it’s bad for the ego. Nobody likes to be wrong, and that’s why we’ve created this artificial “everyone’s right” worldview. But it doesn’t work.
The craziest part of the dress debate to me is that people still argued their case after the debate was settled. A full day later, I saw quite a few social media posts arguing that the dress was white and gold. Even though the actual dress was discovered for sale and better pictures of it being worn had been revealed, the debate raged on. The ego is a funny thing.
Sometimes we have to step back and realize that we’ve been wrong, not just about the color of a dress but about more important things as well. At some point in life, all of us have hurt someone. All of us have done something wrong. When that happens, our reaction reveals our character.
Some will stubbornly sink their feet into the sand. Unwilling to admit a mistake, they will unwaveringly continue on, likely causing further damage in the process. But there’s a better way. We must pursue righteousness instead of saving face. We must choose to do right rather than be right.