The Atlantic

What's Up With All These Viral Illusions?

From The Dress to tennis-ball colors to Yanny vs. Laurel, the internet keeps surfacing these places where our perceptions diverge.
Source: Bitmoji / Shutterstock / The Atlantic

The dress is blue; tennis balls are yellow; and much like a glass can be both half-empty and half-full (because there are TWO HALVES), the audio clip is saying both “laurel” and “yanny” at the same time.

These are the molehills I have chosen to die on, because when it comes to viral illusions, it seems, you must choose a side. Enough of these divisive illusions have piled up now to make one wonder: How different is my reality from everyone else’s?

It all began in a simpler time—February 2015—on an ordinary Thursday evening when Was the dress white and gold, or blue and black? The question pitted brother against brother, friend against friend, caused celebrities to weigh in, and basically ground the internet to a halt. The dress was actually blue, but that hardly mattered. (And most people didn’t see it that way—in ’s original poll, 67 percent of people voted for white and gold, compared to 33 percent for blue and black.) What

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