Twitter / riarklerise

Which came first, the photo or the textbook? A group of students photographed on the cover of an algebra textbook are holding that same textbook in the photo. Wait, what?

If you’re confused, you’re not alone.

It started, as so many things do, with a tweet.

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Isabelle, who posted the tweet, told Buzzfeed News that she didn’t realize how viral the whole thing would become. Within 48 hours, she had over 60,000 retweets and more than 80,000 likes.

Is it too late to stop the madness? Are all our eyes lying to us?

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The maker of the textbook eventually got involved, telling BuzzFeed News that they were "absolutely overwhelmed" by the response.

This is not the first time the image has gone viral: It popped up on Reddit last year and in a Buzzfeed post. In the Reddit thread, a user found that the photo comes from a stock image.

The stock image of an algebra textbook.
Reddit