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: “Already-made costumes usually don't look all that good and are overpriced. Another MAJOR issue is what do I do with that wholly bought costume [after Halloween]? I don't want to store a Hobbit costume all year, or throw it away.” –Male, 27, CA

Kids might still have Frozen fever (bets on how many Elsas we’ll see this Halloween?) but Disney is ready to build buzz for their next princess movie. This week the first artwork for Moana, the story of a Polynesian princess sailing the Pacific, was released, along with news that the film will be out in 2016. Moana will be the fifth non-white Disney princess, which our Instant Poll results today show should align with viewers’ wishes. (Vulture)

High-end designers continue to make children’s clothing to outfit the best dressed generation, and fashion for the pre-teen set is looking more sophisticated than ever: GapKids’ collaboration with kate spade new york and Jake Spade is hitting stores for just two weeks on October 30th, featuring kid versions of some of the labels’ bright and colorful signature pieces. While Gap’s campaign telling adults to “dress normal”missed the mark—and isn’t doing any favors for their sales—we suspect this more whimsical pint sized capsule collection will have parents lining up. (Nitrolicious

How big has The Walking Dead gotten? The post-zompocalyptic gore-fest is so popular that ratings for its first two episodes beat out Sunday Night Football among “the demo that really matters,” viewers 18-49-years-old. Dead’s victory over football could be because this audience thought the games airing weren’t interesting. But if the ratings trend continues, it could be potential evidence that football is losing Millennial fans. (UproxxDeadline)

For teens today, fights in the hallway can lead to much worse than getting detention; students are actually being arrested for misbehavior in schools. Even smaller disciplinary issues like chewing gum, wearing too much perfume, or in one case eating another student’s chicken nuggets, can result in misdemeanor charges. The increased presence of police on campuses, and rise in teachers reporting misbehavior to local authorities, “has turned traditional school discipline…into something that looks more like the adult criminal-justice system.” (WSJ)

Millennial populations in small towns and rural areas might be “ticking slightly upward,” but that growth is no match for the continued trend of urbanization that the generation is spurring. Millennials are also moving en masse to the “fancier suburbs” of big cities, and reportedly Arlington, VA has seen an 82% growth in members of the generation from 2007 to 2013. Small towns feel limiting to these young consumers, who are still flocking to more bustling areas despite the fact that they are more expensive. (NPR)

Our Infographic Snapshots are data visualizations that take our proprietary bi-weekly survey stats and synthesize them to tell a story about this generation’s behaviors and views. From political stances to social media use to spending, we illustrate how many, how much, and how often. These helpful infographics are available to our Gold and Silver subscribers. (Ypulse)

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