Just a few short months ago, the virtual hemisphere was in an uproar over some gaudy looking striped dress. A good majority of people – myself included – got it wrong. We saw white and gold, and were adamant about it too, even after the dress maker revealed the colors were blue and black. “That dress is white and gold,” I announced to an aunt. When she commented that it was weird that so many people were seeing the wrong color, I agreed. Reluctantly. Then I brooded over the conundrum. “One thing it does highlight is people can see the exact same thing, differently. Imagine being called as a witness to a crime,” I said.
We later learned that the disconnect had to do with how our eyes and brains perceive information and how that could lead to different color interpretations, according to a few neuroscientists who weighed in.
As I read articles on the dress, my mind wandered. If our perception could distort something as trivial as the color of a dress, could it be powerful enough to shape our reality?
Yes. Our perceptions are largely influenced by our experiences, culture, attitudes and expectations. However real to us, how we perceive something can be flat out wrong.
Over the past week, I’ve sifted through some heavily-charged posts on Facebook that ended in debate (and some name-calling) over everything from the history of the Confederate flag to the need for gun control. It made me think a lot about perception. I believe we are so firmly rooted in our own positions that our perception, on whatever issue, is our reality. Never mind the truth.
We listen to other people’s arguments only long enough to bolster our own.
This is one reason why, sadly, disagreements can’t always be settled. There’s a lot at play here with who we are, how we were raised, and how we see the world.
Sometimes perception isn’t malleable and doesn’t bend. Sometimes, it persists in seeing the white and gold dress, long after the next news cycle.