a blue dress, a beautiful story

It was just a silly question - what colour is this dress? But watching it go viral was a wonderful experience. Millions of people were coming together to partake in a fun story.

Beyond the question itself - which was captivating like most good mysteries - that sense of coming together, creating the story together, was enchanting. It formed a space of belonging. Each of us, no matter our age or gender or politics, could participate in the puzzle, could share it with others, could be in the conversation. I'm sure that was what helped it go viral.

a white dress ... and the cardigan is actually light purple

This happens with the greatest stories of our civilisation - the destruction of the Berlin Wall, protests against the Vietnam War, and so on. People enjoy being part of events as much as they enjoy the events themselves.

I remember when Harry Potter first came out. People were not talking about the book itself, they were talking about the experience of buying it or reading it. They were telling stories about adults buying it for their children then reading it themselves on the plane trip home and loving it. People began buying the books to be part of the experience. 

It happens with sad stories too. I was vacuuming the floor when I first heard about Princess Diana's car crash ... Being able to personally connect with the story in some way gives us a sense of belonging, and the bigger the story becomes, the bigger we feel in ourselves and the smaller, closer, more homey, the world feels.

The interesting thing about such viral stories is that they don't require a special gatekeeper. Usually, stories become hugely successful because important people mention them. But sometimes it's just about the momentum of excitement, humour, happiness. I like that best of all. It's more genuine.

I'm putting this all badly. But I hope you see my general idea. We want to be together. We want to share experiences.

Isn't that wonderful?


  1. For the most part, I agree with you. But I sometimes . . . well, it's this part - People enjoy being part of events as much as they enjoy the events themselves - that makes me wiggle a bit in discomfort. Not because it isn't true, it most definitely is - but because there are stories whose importance relies on their truths (that sounds terrible grammatically, but I don't know how else to write it) - and when people get too involved, it so often ends up like that game we played as children - one person tells a sentence to another, who tells it to another, and on down the line, until when the end is reached, the sentence is totally different.

    Most of the time - the majority of the time - that's fun. And as someone who tells stories, I want interaction and sharing. But the stories our lives depend on - I'm thinking politically here, the stories we take inside the voting booth, must be held to their truths. Social media has a bad habit of changing bits and re-whispering it until the story people believe to be the real deal is no longer that.

    Forgive me - it is Saturday morning, I am barely up and about, laundry is going in the background, and I am no doubt wording this badly, but I think you'll understand me. (And as for that dress story? I have to admit, as someone who has helped run a photography business for close to 30 years, I pretty much just rolled my eyes.) :)

  2. I love your take on the dress debate and how we love to feel part of something and share it with others, it's so true. I did get into a bit of a state arguing about the colour of that black and blue dress but remained always so eager to hear the next person't opinion. :)
    Thankyou for this thought provoking post, your dress in the photo is beautiful but I'm afraid the cardigan is greyish brown. ;)
    Jess xx

  3. I managed to miss the whole dress thing, but, yes, we are constantly seeking the community we lack. I am very blessed with my local community, but the knowledge of the dispersal of tribes and accompanying rifts between neighbours is unsettling. The cause, as you say, is a need to be with kin. And that is very wonderful.

  4. For as big as it is, the world is still very small, and when people come and pull together, it reassures me that we're going to be okay.

  5. I too missed the dress thing... but love that people want to come together.
    Always a joy to visit your blog, Sarah.
    ~ Lin

  6. we all do want to share the experiences and sometimes unfortunately that's all that gets shared….and the real meaty part, from those dark places nobody talks about, get overlooked. i know exactly what you meant and i understand debi's point of view, too…..and isn't this also the beauty in everything we share with each other online? that we all see, feel and understand differently? {ps…those blooms on my blog were from right before we left florida..a week ago} xo