The GIF of Personality

Emotions, for the most part, are what separate us from the Apes. They are a thick cross-section of our personality, and although many emotions are shared, they are also uniquely our own.

That used to be true to the truest extent of true. Then somebody got this idea:


That thing above was called a "what should we call me" or a "how I feel when" animated GIF.  It's a tapestry of images that runs its course in a matter of seconds (depending on your bandwidth). The little file upload that has become so outlandishly popular that it is setting a new standard on what is viral, on what is possibly mindless, and it is making a big impact.

If you have received no fewer than 250 of these in your email inbox and/or Facebook newsfeed by this point, feel free to stand up and take the name of your deity in vein loudly.

Welcome to the midpoint of 2012, a time when instead of actually expressing emotions interpersonally, we convey how we feel through a series of animated GIF files and YouTube videos. Today we rely much less on words to express how we feel, and I don't know how I feel about that.

Email chains have become a rat race to see who can find the funnier GIF that someone else created before someone else finds it. It's a mindless juxtaposition for actually making an effort to make someone smile. And those of us that peddle these creations the most, come off looking like drones. Drones that appear to be saying "fuck it!, I'm not funny, but at least I know someone else who is!"

Don't get me wrong. I love memes, I love the newest pictures on Reddit, but I don't love them so much that I would use them as a catalyst to conversation as an alternative to... well... conversation. And I certainly refuse to treat my friends as dead horses by viciously beating their temples with this shitty form of new non-novelty.

Did you know that there are actually blogs reaping dividends off of this new niche? Here's one. Here's another. This is our new "claim to fame." Entire websites devoted to equivocating someone else's ideas to express your own.

Hopefully this is just a fly-by-night ridiculous little fad that will make people realize its lack of substance in hindsight. Because as a collection of online avatars with a pulse, I think we're much better than this. I think we're capable of being creative, and I still think that the 2% of genetic code that separates us from the Apes is a bigger chasm than it sounds.

Rome wasn't built in a day, but it was seemingly destroyed over night. A domino effect that brought down an entire empire. Another sad example of lemmings following each other off of a cliff.

The acute influx of these GIF files could be bigger than Farmville and Cityville combined. Screw fetching online lumber for your imaginary pole barn. Screw warding off child predators. This is the new problem at hand in cyberspace. Yes, sometimes they are funny, and yes they are usually appropriate, but the foundation of humor was not built on implied and predictable nuance. It was not forged with the work of other people being whored out to misrepresentation. It was from novel thought and effort-fueled creativity. It was from the purest of quick-witted conjecture that didn't have so much evidently obvious factual basis that it could just be sharp and immediately elicit laughter. It was for those of us who like to laugh because we can't help it... not because we're supposed to.

Let's not destroy the "Rome" that Facebook accidentally created. Let's propagate original thought, and let's actually express our actual feelings once again (without going to the point of making our subscribers think we have suicidal tendencies).

Let's pause our gait, and quit taking steps backward into becoming an idiocracy, and let's collect ourselves and take a step forward into becoming a free-thinking society.

Perhaps this is a call to revise the constitution of online interaction. A time to bring back original thought. Perhaps we have a revolution on our hands.

This is how I feel when I want to start a revolution

Dear Christ, now I'm doing it...

If the "trending now" powers that be don't buck this trend soon, our personalities will be completely and inevitably hijacked by what other people/notable figures declare how we should react. We'll become boring regurgitators of movie lines and scenes, and this overwhelming amount of GIF will become yet another non-renewable resource, and due to how compulsively we overuse the shit out of everything, it will eventually become the GIF that doesn't keep on giving.