Dec 25th, 2022, 05:00 PM

Are GIFs dead?

By Chloe Elsesser
Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Dominique Toussaint
Or are they here for the long haul?

Once upon a time, GIFs were on the cutting-edge of media. An acronym for, "graphics interchange format," in their early forms they were crucial to the creation of websites all throughout the internet, and even throughout the last decade little repeated animations seem to have flooded through online forums and text chains among friends. 

But now there's a question as to whether or not they're fading away as a trendy artifact of the early internet, or if they'll stick around for years to come. 

"They are less popular, but I still find them useful at times because they are fun," said Eliza Levy, a visiting student at AUP. 

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Marvel

Currently, in the competitive world of social media, GIFs face a great deal of rivals. Many people, especially younger generations, anxiously await the next best thing in the media, and with the rise of twitter, memes, and tik tok, GIFs can seem rather alien. In many cases, trendy platforms steal the spotlight and expose the significant age gap in the media, and GIFs can often be at the forefront of that gap.

Whether you find the infamous GIF to be an ancient artifact inherited by the boomers or a last resort tool to enhance a dry conversation, some believe that the GIF will always be an important icon in the era of digital communication.

“I think GIFs are especially important in modern communication because they help you express a thought that either an emoji or a paragraph over text couldn’t otherwise convey," said Ricky Marc, a masters student at AUP. "They allow you to convey that thought while also creating a reference to a cultural callback, such as a film or a meme that is now in the common social atmosphere, and it allows you to say a lot of things without really saying anything.”

In this case, the connotations can be complex, despite how straightforward they seem. A short video clip may be played repeatedly or indefinitely, allowing the GIF to be interpreted in various ways, unlike a still message that promotes a single meaning.

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons/OImageMakerO

Others said that other platforms rival this complexity, though. "I appreciate the GIFs ability to capture an action and put it into an image, however the TikTok era has changed our capacity for excitement," said Hadley Guthrie, a sophomore at AUP. 

Zion Raeburn, a masters student at AUP, said that, “They are dying because memes and twitter pictures are taking over.”

Marc said these criticisms weren't enough to surpass the usefulness the GIF brings. “And you know how they say a picture is a thousand words? Imagine how a moving picture sounds or how much it is worth. So no, they are not dead. If anything, they are alive and well.”