Why GIFs Became the Sweetheart of the Internet

 

Is it too early to crown the GIF the internet star of 2013? Though the format has been in use since the early days of websites, there has been a proliferation of GIF use among young consumers of late that has pushed the once lowly image file into the spotlight. What is it about the GIF format that has captured the hearts of hoards of Tumblr users, internet commenters, and viral bloggers?

For readers who aren’t familiar with the GIF, they are short, endlessly-looped video files that appear to play a few seconds of action on eternal replay. The New Republic wrote an extensive history of the medium and its rise from 90s junk animation to art form. Today, GIFs have become an integral part of the way internet users (often led by Gen Y) talk to one another. They appear as reactions to blog articles, are created and shared by fan communities on Tumblr and elsewhere to celebrate moments in TV and movies, are emailed as exclamations and emotional outbursts. In short, they have become the second language of the internet.

So why GIFs, and why now? Millennials, always a very image-reliant generation, have continued to gravitate towards visual communication. With the strengthening popularity of Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest, Vine, and Snapchat, we could almost see them reaching a tipping point where visuals actually usurp text communication in common use. When you are a group who communicates by majority in visuals, those visuals have to evolve in order to fully capture the emotion you are trying to convey. (We saw a similar evolution in the simple emoticon, which began as a finite combination of punctuations and have become a legion of animated faces and objects stored on your phone for easy access and hieroglyphic-esque messaging.) Layer on top of this the fact that Millennials have also…

 
 
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Millennial News Feed

Quote of the Day: “It's cheaper and more fun to make my own Halloween costume. Also that way my costume will be different from everyone else's.” –Male, 17, PA

In stories of cyberbullying, Formspring gained a reputation for being an epicenter for negativity and hurtful anonymous comments between teens. The platform shut down last year thanks to that toxic history, but in its wake new site Spring.me wants to be “the friendliest social network,” joining the fight for positivity in social media. Like Formspring, Spring allows Q&A discussions and chats, but the site wants those chats to facilitate making friends. Spring’s slightly older userbase (an average age of 24) is one factor they hope will keep the environment relatively gossip and troll-free. (TechCrunch)

In our most recent Ypulse Quarterly trend report, we talked about Chasing Neverland, a trend of Millennials wanting to recapture the carefree feeling of their childhood. One example? The pre-work dance parties that have become popular in New York, LA, San Francisco and Atlanta. Daybreaker, the company throwing these energetic events, emphasizes health and wellness, and says the parties are all about having a unique, fun, in-person experience. According to one organizer, “There’s an outcropping of excitement for interactivity and real community experiences. Millennials—they’re tired of online.” (Mashable)

Millennials are getting serious about saving. According to a new study, the number of young workers enrolling in 401(k) plans increased 55% in the first half of 2014. A major factor behind the increase is the “sheer number of Millennials entering the workforce.” Today they make up 25% of workers, and by 2020 that number is estimated to climb to 50%. (Time)

The rumored anonymous Facebook app is here: Rooms is a mobile network that aims to bring people together based on mutual interests instead of mutual social connections. Users can create a room around any topic, from bee keeping to World of Warcraft, and other people can join those rooms using any username they choose. Room accounts are not connected to Facebook accounts, and the app is based off of the idea of online forums more than recent iterations of social networking. (Fast Company)

Archie, Betty and Veronica are coming to TV: Fox is developing a “subversive take” on the iconic comic series. The show,Riverdale, will reportedly be a combination of the small-town teen sagas of Dawson’s Creek and the weird, mysterious happenings of Twin Peaks. The plot will focus on the darker elements lurking under the “wholesome façade” of the town, and other characters from the Archie franchise will be involved—Josie and the Pussycats will reportedly play a “big role.” (SlashfilmUproxx)

Did you know that Ypulse tracks social media trends in our biweekly surveys? We found that Vine, Twitter, and YouTube have seen steady growth since November 2013, gaining 9%, 10%, and 13% more Millennial users, respectively. Our Silver and Gold tier subscribers explore helpful visuals that detail our tracked trends in the Data Room on Ypulse.com. (Ypulse)

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