The Dress, Pokemon Go, and Starbucks Cups

What do these three things have in common?

The Dress was a viral phenomenon that led people everywhere wondering whether it was black and blue or gold and white–or whether they were just plain crazy. The first time I looked at it, I saw black and blue, wondered what all the fuss was about, looked away for a moment, looked back–and saw white and gold. It was weird.

Pokemon Go was all the rage a year or two ago–a game that allowed people to hunt virtual Pokemon in real space. People everywhere, including my at-the-time boyfriend (now my husband) were obsessed. Some people complained, but most rejoiced to see a game that got kids outside and moving around. I played it for awhile, since my guy really wanted us to do it together, but after awhile the game died out and it was taking up too much room on my phone, so I deleted it.

Starbucks cups–well, they are cups at Starbucks, of course, but in this case I’m referring to the red holiday cups that came out last year. Apparently one guy on one social media video was upset that the cups were plain red rather than overtly “Christmas” themed, insisting it was somehow anti-religion. The internet erupted with people complaining about this allegedly widespread outrage. Really, hardly anybody cared about the cups, but for awhile we all very much cared about the idea of people caring about it.

And that’s the point. For a little while, even just for a few weeks, we were all united in something.

In this day and age, there is so little left to unite the world, or even our country. We are more fractured than we’ve ever been–politically, religiously, in our opinions and our lifestyles, our dietary opinions, our social circles. Once upon a time you could meet someone on the street in your country and fairly safely make certain assumptions about their values. No longer. It seems like day by day we are growing less and less united.

Then these little trends, unimportant curiosities or fascinations, come along.

For a few days, we are all together in our fascination of The Dress. I remember being asked at parties, at gatherings from various walks of life–“What color did you see?” Amazon was flooded with review of this singular garment, each trying to outdo each other in their cleverness.

Briefly, you could see someone else walking through the park, holding their phone up deep in concentration, and you could nod knowingly at each other, knowing you’ve both gotta catch ’em all.

In a weird way, we could even all look at the red Starbucks holiday cups and share condolences on how ridiculous “some people” were to make an uproar about it.

Shallow unity, yes. Nothing very meaningful or important, ultimately. But sometimes, in a world as lost and broken as this one, it’s nice to bond over something–anything–even the colors of a piece of clothing in a picture on the internet.

For those small moments, in absurd and fleeting ways, we are one again.

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