Net Culture

The Dress and How We Construct Reality

March 5, 2015

The Dress and How We Construct Reality

I missed this whole color-vision-brouhaha because I was off the internet for most of the day. Curious about the colour of the dress? the answer is simple: it’s blue. More interestingly, curious about why the Internet lost its collective shit? There’s an article for that. For what it’s worth, I saw the photograph of the dress as white and gold and a rorschach test.

Curious query that crossed my thoughts, which was, what does this cultural internet-phenomenon add as a future comment for ourselves as a collective society? As an answer to this, I followed a tweet that mentioned how ‘the dress of many colours’ inspired a re-reading of Wittgenstein and Kant, which then led to this Medium post on the dress and Epistemology. The writer of the article, Sydette Harry, goes further into detail on our evolving relationship with affirmation and dissent in internet culture:

Conformity is now hand-picked. You can find the people who support your version of reality, and use them to battle the people who don’t. You don’t have to wonder whether you are right or wrong; you just have to find the people or the evidence that agrees with you.

Social networks already play a major role in our daily routine. It’s difficult to imagine being disconnected and avoiding the now-norm of crowd participation. As a tail-end to the Dress’s phenomenon, Antoine Lefeuvre does a great job in addressing these issues, and brings attention to the now-growing question, is such hyper-connection is beneficial to our collective health? in his latest A List Apart article.

Digital malaise
Not only does hyper-connection alter our social relationships, it also makes us dumber, as pointed out as early as 2005. It threatens our health too. Twenty-first-century afflictions include digital fatigue, social media burnout or compulsive internet use.

Cures for these rising internet-related disorders include such radical solutions as rehab centers, or disconnection.

“I was wrong”
Most of the experiments in living offline have begun with the same cause and led to the same conclusion: the internet drives us crazy, but it brings us much more than we realize.

“The internet isn’t an individual pursuit, it’s something we do with each other. The internet is where people are,” says journalist Paul Miller in his famous “I was wrong” piece on The Verge. When you disconnect, you’re not just cutting the link with a network of computers, you’re actually isolating yourself from the rest of society. Miller also emphasizes that there is no such thing as a divide between virtuality and reality. To me, the best example of this is the sharing economy of “virtual” communities such as AirBnb or Kickstarter that is all about changing the “real” world.

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