Remember 2015, when the internet went crazy over whether or not a dress was blue and black (and it was blue, don’t tell me otherwise) or white and gold? Well, a new visual phenomenon has gone viral, and this time it’s about stripes.
When @mmmadelinee tweeted out a simple selfie of her in a striped shirt, the internet went crazy thinking it had magical powers. As soon as you zoomed in on the shirt the pattern completely changed, turning from a horizontal stripe to a vertical zig-zag.
People tweeted out things like “Your shirt is the devil” and “Why yo shirt trippin me out??” as they continually zoomed in and out to see different versions of it. She must have felt pretty good about it, as most of the tweets also contained some compliment on her looks, magical shirt be damned.
It’s actually a simple explanation to the phenomenon. The zigzag effect is called moiré, and it’s caused by the relationship between the frequency and angle of the pattern, and the size of the pixels on your screen. As you zoom in and out, that changes and gives you a different pattern.
This happens constantly on television, when guests appear in “loud” patterns. It’s why most hosts wear muted, solid colors. It also presents itself in fabric printing, when images are transferred by computer. You can end up getting nothing like what you planned.
There are some pretty cool applications of this phenomenon, like the one seen below. You can manipulate the patterns and frequencies to show whatever you want.
For this woman though it was just a coincidence in a regular selfie. She never expected it to be liked more than 50,000 times, or retweeted all over the internet. Her followers have jumped up to over 3300, just because she picked the right photo to use. Careful checking out her feed, as some of it is NSFW.