Black and blue or white and gold? Beyond the colors of #TheDress

So blue and black or white and gold? Kidding… But this internet phenomenon did make me think.

What seemed to go viral among many of my group chats in a matter of 15 minutes broke the internet in a matter of hours.  My question is – where did this originate from and how many millions of people did it spread to?

I honestly would rather rip my hair out before I get into another debate about the actual color of The Dress (IT’S BLACK AND BLUE!!!) but I am extremely curious about how this photo managed to spread like wildfire.

Buzzfeed’s article “What Colors Are this Dress?” is on its way to becoming the site’s most viewed post, ever.  So how did this story manage to go viral within a matter of hours when normal posts take at least a few days? It even has its own hashtag, #TheDress. While internet viewers are determined for an end-all theory as to why they see the dress the way they do, journalists should take note of the incredible speed of this story and how it can be repeated in the future.

What was originally shared to a blog post made its way to Twitter with one of the highest trending hashtags, became a trending topic on Facebook, covered Buzzfeed’s homepage, and became a topic on Snapchat’s TGIF “my story.”  The more we are diving into the digital age, the more I tend to notice how quickly the internet is spreading even the simplest of stories.  The Chapel Hill shootings last month found their way across media outlets worldwide due to the tragic message that affected such a large group of people, but now a random dress is even surpassing that.  I realized the magnitude of the story, and the internet, when I opened my Snapchat Friday morning and discovered that Snapchat users in Sweden and Norway were making jokes about “The Dress.”

According to Buzzfeed editor in chief Ben Smith, 79% of Thursday’s views of “What Colors Are the Dress?” were from mobile devices.  We have heard marketers and advertisers stress the need to specifically target mobile users, but this statistic fully supports that.

The reason stories like this are becoming viral at an even faster rate is all thanks to our mobile phones.  With one click I can send a photo to a huge group of my friends, who then share it with another group of theirs.  Besides frustrating the hell out of millions of people, The Dress brought to light an excellent point – we, especially as journalists, need to take advantage of the efficiency of mobile sharing and accept that it will most likely be the future of communications.


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