357/366 – Reaction GIF Contraption

Communicating online has become more than just words these days. Sure, that was probably true shortly after being online and doing things on the internet got popular, but I think only in recent times have the lines of communication gotten more creative and interesting. That’s where reaction GIFs have started to partially rule the roost as far as talking is concerned.

GIFing probably didn’t really become a thing until things progressed to the point that GIFs weren’t just grainy, low quality animations with only a second or two’s worth of run time. When GIFs became able to be both a respectable, viewable quality and when computers and internet connections could handle longer form animations, that’s when I think we started seeing them cranked out like a factory mass-producing items for sale. Some of the best GIFs you see are ones that might have been used and re-used over and over again. They started appearing as introductions to threads, as part of social media feeds without comment, and as the means for a variety of smart and sometimes snarky responses to a variety of situations. And with the way that GIFs could easily be made, thousands, if not tens of thousands are probably in regular circulation today.

There isn’t anything inherently wrong about this. I’m all for other means of expressing yourself online and even though I tend to do it in a text-based manner there isn’t anything really problematic using an image to convey the same message. It is, on a certain level, an interesting occurrence that started to inch itself into the normal communication of the internet and has even become the fuel for some of its more storied habits, such as the meme or the MRW thread, or other such naturally occurring online phenomena of interest. While there’s an issue with how the GIF machine sort of lowers the quality of discussion by virtue of the fact that it doesn’t really involve text so much as it does media, most of the time it’s relatively harmless and more of a distraction than a problem.

For my part, I’ve always been more of a text person myself. I’m not that great at creating GIFs and I sort of feel like by now, the best of the best GIFs are the ones that you’ve probably seen somewhere else at some point in time (and thus are in danger of feeling like they’re a little too recycled). Words, on the other hand, appear to have more of a flexibility when it comes to usage, from where you piece them together to how you convey thoughts. The machine that GIFing has become has its place online no doubt, but I think that for talking about some of the more complex thoughts that people have, there’s still no substitute for the written word – something that I think will still ensure pretty handily even if the method of GIF delivery becomes even easier – and of course, more entertaining.

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