The Gif is on the rise. The New York Times reported today on the new popularity of gifs, which have seen a notable upswing in use increasing since 2012. Social networks are making it easier than ever to integrate gifs into posts. Facebook announced true gif support on the site this past March, and Twitter did the same last summer.
As the New York Times notes, this increasing propensity toward gif use may signal the rise of a new language made possible by mobile and text-driven communication. Linguists already say that emojis are a new language (and see our rundown, here). Will animated gifs prove the same?
Okay. What is a gif though?
Technically, a gif is a picture that moves. It's different than a video because the movement is caused by many fewer images layered on top of each other -- exactly like a flipbook. Gifs can be made from video, but when that happens, the video clip is broken down into several layered pictures. This compression makes gifs highly shareable. Video files are huge; gifs are not. Of their main qualities, we can say: a gif is a quick, looping video without sound that usually captures a gesture, expression, or moment.
Gifs have actually been around since 1987. In the early days of the Internet (Geocities, anyone?), they used to look sort of like this:
Now, we have better technology, as well as dedicated communities on sites like Tumblr that love to make and share images. Gifs are being served like hotcakes. Now we're seeing high-quality looping images ripped straight from pop culture.
Some celebs are more gif-able than others.
Why We Gif
It seems text-only messages aren't cutting it these days. Human kind is reaching for more visual means of expressing our feelings and reactions. As Lucy Dikeou, a 21-year-old student at Stanford explains in the NY Times piece: "I'm able to express these really complex emotions in the span of two seconds." Others are just text-shy. Jerrod Howly, an employee at Google, speaking to the Times said: "I'm not that great with words. But if I find the perfect GIF, it nails it."
If you were meeting a friend for a movie, and halfway to the theater, you get a text saying they aren't going to make it, raincheck?, you could text "Okay" or you could text:
How to Gif
One thing you can do is search gif archive sites, the most popular being Giphy, Imgur, and PopKey. Riffsy is the most popular Gif keyboard for mobile, making it easy to insert gifs into text messages with a quick tap.
Now go on with your bad self.