Families warred from within. Friends bickered. The Internet's collective mind broke apart like an egg dropped on a tile floor. What was it that brought such a calamity upon our world? It was a photograph of a dress. Not just any dress. The Dress.
Here's a refresher. One year ago, on February 26, 2015, a lacy dress with horizontal layers of fabric eclipsed online news about strife in the Middle East, flooding in Bolivia and extreme weather in the US.
The Dress was originally destined to be worn at a wedding in Scotland. A photograph of the frock shared on Tumblr cracked open a world of debate about whether it was black and blue or white and gold. People took sides. Hashtags like #thedress, #whiteandgold, #blueandblack and #whatcoloristhisdress rose up from the kerfuffle and overtook Twitter.
Esquire Magazine later referred to February 26 as "The Single Worst Day on the Internet in 2015." The Dress even has its own Wikipedia page, where it's classified as a "viral phenomenon." The viral phenomenon of our times would be more like it. And a year later, The Dress is still in fashion.
Earlier this month, a very expensive Super Bowl 50 TV ad for avocados featured a cameo by The Dress as aliens show off exhibits captured from Earth. The otherworldly tour guide refers to it as "the white and gold dress that caused a civil war."
The Dress even appeared last week in the season 3 opening montage for Comedy Central's "Broad City," as the stars primp in two different color combinations of the dress.
Why is it that we can't put The Dress back on the rack and consign it to obscurity? Because we all had so much fun with it. It didn't matter who you were. You had an opinion on The Dress and you shared it with the world through social media. Celebrities weighed in. We pretended to be exasperated, but many of us loved every tweet of it.
The Internet loves to frolic in collective madness. We embrace the incompetence of Left Shark and celebrate the heroism of Pizza Rat. For a few brief moments we're all living inside the delightful inanity of a Monty Python sketch and it's a welcome respite from the pressures of real life.
Of course, some people got annoyed by the hype avalanche and started sharing photos of the dress as if it was on fire. A commemorative iPhone case emerged, available in your choice of either black and blue or white and gold. A guy even got a tattoo to memorialize the confusion forever.
Scientists stepped into the fray to explain that what you see depends on how your brain views and interprets the photo. The colors depend on factors like the lighting in your room and the lack of contextual clues in the image itself. OK. That makes sense. But it's much more fun to just argue about it on Twitter and Facebook.
The original Tumblr post that started the commotion is gone, but The Dress hasn't left our pop-culture consciousness. It has spun a thread across the world, reaching through our computer screens and tying us together in a debate that was both silly and engaging.
Oh, and obviously the dress is blue and black, but I want you to vote in the poll anyway.