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Sunday, June 8, 2014

GIF Usage 101

If you haven't noticed by now that I am way too fond of using GIFs, you should probably work on your observation skills.  GIFs are incredibly versatile, and they can be so much more effective than words in certain situations.  You probably haven't been wondering how to become fluent in the use of the GIF, but I'm going to give you this introductory course anyway.
  • I have yet to come across a situation for which I cannot find an acceptable GIF.  Are you 100% done with this conversation?  There's a GIF for that.
      Do you like something that just happened?  There's a GIF for that.  
    Do you just have no idea how to respond?  There's a GIF for that, too. 
  • GIFs can clarify your words.  If I say "I'm sad", you have a general idea of what I'm trying to say.  But if I supplement that phrase with a reaction GIF, you'll get a better idea of my sadness.  Am I David-Tennant-ugly-crying sad ...
  • ...or Loki-my-eyes-are-constantly-watery sad? 
  • Start some sort of GIF collection.  Trust me; it'll be awesome.  I have one on Pinterest.  I'm not even going to tell you how many GIFs are in it because I don't want your judgement.  (No, you can't see it--it's a secret board because of reasons.)  If you have a GIF collection stored somewhere, you'll be able to easily scroll through and find the perfect GIF for your situation.  Then, if you ever come across a GIF that you don't want to lose, you can save it and have it forever.  
  • You know you want to make a fandom reference.  A GIF can do that for you. 
  • And you can also make a brilliant crossover reference. 
    Lestrade recognizes that the Council has made a decision, but since it's not his division, he's elected to ignore it.
  • It's a picture.  That moves.  Infinitely.  It's basically sorcery.  React accordingly.
  • You can use them to catch people's attention.  I could start out a blog or forum post by saying hi.  With text.  And as lovely as Times New Roman might be, how much more interesting would it be to be greeted by this?  
    If a picture is worth a thousand words, then what is the worth of a little snippet of video that keeps going forever, even after your wifi dies?  Human brains and eyes are trained to focus on movement and change.  When we first enter a website, our eyes are immediately drawn to any movement on the screen.  In this case, a GIF.  This automatically captures our attention.
  • Use them to punctuate your Goodreads status updates.  I do this all the time.  It's so much fun, and it's often satisfying to post a Hulk-smash GIF when something that just happened in a book makes you angry.  Or you just don't feel like using words, and anyway, GIFs tend to make everything funnier, if well-placed.  Here's an example of one of my status updates from when I read The Isle of Blood:
    Annie is on page 345 of 538
    "Conan Doyle's face was a study in scarlet."

  • High-resolution GIFs.  Use them.  How pretty is this?  There might not always be a high-quality GIF around for you to use, but if there is, go for it.*   
  • Express emotions that cannot be described using words.  Like this.  I'm not sure what to call this emotion, but it's an emotion, so...GIF. 
  • Where do you find GIFs?  Best place: Tumblr.  The GIF is the language, currency, and weapon of choice of Tumblr users.  Besides, if you're looking for a truly inexplicable GIF, or a fandom GIF, they've got you covered.  If all else fails, simply do a Google image search on "Hulk smash GIF" or "happy kitten GIF" or whatever you're looking for.  (There are some GIFs that I do not recommend searching for.  It's Tumblr.  You know what I mean.)  
  • GIFs can tell a story.  Remember that time I posted my retelling of Macbeth, in GIFs?  Okay, so I didn't post it here, even though I'm irrationally proud of it.  It's on Goodreads, though, and maybe someday I should put it here.  It proves that you can use unrelated GIFs to tell a story, in the same way that you can use words.  Maybe I should publish an entire series of Shakespeare plays retold in GIFs.  Why do I have a bad feeling that this will be my legacy on the internet? 
  • GIFs are the number one way of keeping the Leonardo-DiCaprio-can't-get-an-Oscar joke alive.  I know these things because science.  This is a joke that I don't think I'll ever get tired of, so why not immortalize it in a GIF? 
  • You can use GIFs to inflict feels upon your innocent readers.  Because why not?  Like this: 
    Or this:
    Too soon?  Nah.  Anytime you bring Reichenbach or 'Empty Chairs At Empty Tables' into anything, you're going to have someone sobbing and saying, "Too soon!"  Even fifty years from now.  
  • There's a legend on Tumblr that says that if you say "Supernatural" three times, the Supernatural fandom will appear with a related GIF.  Or they'll just infiltrate all your text posts.  This fandom, more than any other, is notorious for having a GIF for every single situation you could ever dream of.  And wielding them like Tony Stark with grenades on a sugar high.  Maybe you think I'm joking about this, but I'm not.  Proof.  More proof.  Even more proof.  There's actually a Tumblr that is devoted to keeping track of all these GIFs.
  • Some GIFs serve no purpose, but they're still fun.  For example, take this GIF from The Winter Soldier.  It doesn't really work as a reaction GIF for anything, but it's still amusing.  Some GIFs are not necessarily reaction GIFs, but that doesn't mean they're not worthwhile. 
I hope this introductory course to GIF usage has been enlightening.  Or entertaining.  Or even a little of both.

How do you use GIFs?  What's your favorite GIF?  Have fandom GIFs ever ruined your beautiful hipster text posts on Tumblr?

*While trying to find a GIF of space, I came across this GIF of Kili riding bacon through space.  I just thought you should know.
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  1. I enjoyed this immensely!!! Yes, I have my own in-progress collection of gifs, and yes, I often put them to use them in internet conversations, even though I get the feeling some of the recipients are not quite so keen on them as I... I think they're exceptionally fun though, and they almost always make communicating easier!

    1. I'm glad you enjoyed it--thanks for letting me know! I also sometimes get the impression that not everyone is as GIF-happy as I am, but I figured, "Eh, it's my corner of the internet, and I enjoy it, and apparently a few others as well, so I might as well keep going."


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