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…

 
 
Ask Millennials some questions.
Log in to get started...

Want to talk to us about the article
or dive into a custom study?


Millennial News Feed

Quote of the Day: “My dream for the future is to become an entrepreneur so I can become my own boss. I also want to become successful to help other people who are in need.” – Female, 23, CA

Seven years after the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly HallowsHarry Potter is the best-selling book series in history; but it also shaped a generation of children who read it. Millennials—known for their technology reliance—fell in love with these books “about love conquering hate,” waited for their release, grew up with the characters, and found within the books a unifying culture that has lasted far beyond the publishing of the last book. As we’ve said previously, the optimistic story about a unique, special boy destined for great things resonated with Millennials in a time when they too believed they were special and had great expectations for their futures. (BoingBoing)

Millennials are not rushing to tee off, and golf is “suffering from a generation gap.” Over the last five years, participation in the sport has fallen steadily, and the participation rates of 18-34-year-olds dropped 13% from 2009 to 2013, while their rates in other sports has risen significantly. The slow rate of games, the expense, and likely the pretense surrounding golf, could all be contributing to the gap. (WSJ)

An anonymous, adult, toy reviewer is one of YouTube’s biggest stars. DisneyCollectorBR posts videos of toy “unboxings,” watched by millions. Her most watched video is an unwrapping of “egg surprise” trinkets to show what is inside—it has over 90 million views. Apparently, the simple videos of a toy being opened and played with by adult hands are “entrancing” kids, who watch one after another. There is close to no information about the person behind the account online. (BuzzFeed)

Millennial parents continue to be given tools that facilitate their kids’ hyper-monitered childhoods. MamaBear is an “all-in-one worry-free” parenting/monitoring app that recently raised $1.4 million. Through the app, parents can be alerted to where children are, what they’re saying on social media, what photos they’re being tagged in, and even monitors when teen users are speeding. (TechCrunch)

The obesity epidemic has been blamed on many things, from fast food to technology replacing outside play. But one result of the health problem could also be making it tough to conquer: a lot of children who are obese or overweight don’t know it. A recent study found that 76% of kids ages 8-15 who are designated by the CDC as overweight thought they were “about right.” Boys and children from poorer families were more likely to “misperceive” their weight. (NPR)

Quote of the Day: “I unplugged from Facebook and it was one of the best decisions I have ever made. It is such a time suck. I have other online sites that I can browse to relieve stress or take a break from work without having to see what some random kid in high school is eating for breakfast.” —Female, 23, PA

Sign Up Now

Subscribe for premium access to our content, data, and tools.

Already a subscriber? Sign in.

Upgrade Now

Upgrade for full access to the best marketing tools for understanding the next generation.

View our Client Case Studies