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: “If I played the lottery tomorrow and won $100,000,000 I would save most of it, donate some of it. And I'd buy my dad a boat, because I promised I'd buy him one if I was ever a millionaire.” –Female, 15, WA

This week, celebrity Photoshopping was debated online when fans criticized Beyoncé for posting an Instagram picture that looked altered to make her look slimmer. The star (and others) have been accused of using Photoshop or other image-fixing apps on social media photos before, a practice that many feel contributes to young female fans’ body issues, and does not align with the imperfection embracing and authenticity that so many young consumers expect. (BuzzFeed)

The Cartoon Network has launched an anti-bullying campaign called “I Speak Up” to encourage kids who have been bullied to reach out to trusted adults. Viewers are being encouraged to submit videos (with the permission of their parent or guardian) to share the anti-bullying message, and some of those videos will be featured in the campaign online and on TV. Visitors to the Speak Up website can also take a pledge to stop bullying, and earn special badges while playing Cartoon Network games. (PR Newser)

Young consumers are screen multitaskers, and second screen use while watching TV is a norm—but it’s not always clear to brands how they should engage in that behavior, and just throwing a hashtag on the screen isn’t going to cut it. Now Twitter says that studios and networks that live-tweet their popular programming (post and respond to viewers while the show is happening) can “dramatically boost followers and Twitter mentions” and even bump up TV ratings. (Recode)

YouTube is coming to the big screen. The digital comedy duo who create SMOSH, a channel with 30 million subscribers, has created a movie that will be distributed by Lionsgate. The movie is being described as a “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventurefor 2014” and will star a slew of other YouTube stars. The news is another example of traditional media embracing YouTube to entice young consumers, and the mainstreaming of the site’s stars. (Fast Company)

New research has found that across all grade levels and subjects, girls get better grades than male students—around the globe. The results have caused some to wonder if schools are “set up to favor the way girls learn and trip up boys.” Male students might be less able to self-discipline themselves, a key ingredient to doing well in classes, which means that the way education is structured plays into their weaknesses. (The Atlantic

Have some lingering questions about Millennials that you need answered for an upcoming meeting? That’s what Ypulse is here for. Silver and Gold subscribers have access to Ypulse's trend and Millennial experts for quick, personalized feedback on any topic. After each insights article, subscribers can submit questions and requests directly to our experts and receive instant responses. (Ypulse)

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