The latest viral craze focuses on “the dress” (see picture), which is (depending on your point of view) either:
It’s actually kind of fun. People in the gold and white camp and having trouble believing that people in the black and blue camp are even telling them the truth; and vice versa.
It’s just another silly viral rage, so it would be pointless to try to make something significant out of it. Yet, that is exactly what I am going to try to do.
This issue of perception feels like something I address when I work with spouses going through divorce. A husband or wife describes what he or she is seeing and the spouse describes how they see something completely different. If I represent the wife and she sees the dress as black and blue she would, understandably, like me to “advocate” for the fact that it is truly black and blue. Her husband will, of course, want his attorney to argue that the dress is truly is gold and white. What is my job? To just take my client’s position? To say what color I think the dress is? To help raise awareness about perception and reality? There is an old joke about attorneys that suggests that if you ask your attorney about the color of the dress, they will pull you aside and ask you, in a very serious tone, “What color would you like it to be?”
A few months ago, the latest viral rage was called Serial, a fascinating podcast about a young man named Adnan Sayad, who was convicted of killing his girlfriend 15 years ago. The podcast led to great discussions about our perceptions of what happened. Apart from the Whodunit aspect, I was fascinated by the way that the story was told.
What made Serial a viral sensation while many other equally fascinating crime stories went unnoticed? For me, it was how the host, Sara Koenig, approached the story out of genuine curiosity. In today’s world we expect these programs to have a point of view; to try to get us to see it a certain way. Ms. Koening just continued to wonder aloud, without pushing any point of view, in a way that I found truly refreshing.
Curiosity is one of the most under rated human qualities. Viewed through curious eyes, the world is a wonderful place; there is always something fascinating around every corner. The fact that we are all seeing different things makes it even more interesting; if we can suspend our need to “be right” at every juncture.
It’s not that everything is up for grabs. Some things are right. Some are truly wrong. And dresses really are a certain color; whether we see it that way or not. But the fact that we are looking out our windows and seeing different things does not have to divide us. To the contrary, it can enhance our sense of wonder about each other.
So, what color is your world? I’m just curious.