The most common version of the GIF, which has been around since 1987, is the “reaction GIF,” where a user creates or links a GIF and describes their feelings from it (“The History of GIFs”). These are used due to the ease of accessibility of reactions as there are literally millions from which to choose. This allows users to choose a GIF that conveys their emotions, and even when they cannot put to words how they feel, a GIF can do the job.
True Detective’s quality of acting and the artistic value makes it a great show for GIFs. It contains many moments I relate to and is also a very semiotic show; one person may react differently than I do. With my GIF, those who watch the show understand the relationship between Rust and Marty. They know that the reaction GIF of Marty I created is somewhat of a common, almost everyday response to Rust’s antics and his philosophies on life.
The Social Presence Theory “focuses on the perception of others as real and present,” while the Media Richness Theory “focuses directly on the medium” (Baym 53). Regarding Social Presence, GIFs can range in intimacy depending on the person who uses the GIF, what the GIF is about, and the context regarding the GIF. If I linked a GIF to describe how I feel, that person would understand it better if they understood the context. Without it, reaction GIFs do not deliver as well. For Media Richness, GIFs fall under this category perfectly. They are instantly available, they communicate multiple cues, they describe natural language through computerized numbers, and they can convey an endless range of emotions. The GIF I created is non-verbal, and the viewer must rely on the facial cues of Marty alone. Viewers will notice his facial expression and head movements, and thus will coordinate a specific view on how the GIF is relevant. The majority of reaction GIFs rely on viewers to understand certain features about the situation, and are useless without these non-verbal cues.
Richard Dawkins’ three properties of memes discuss that memes spread if they incorporate longevity, fecundity, and copy fidelity (Dawkins). A True Detective GIF will be around for as long as the show is, and as long as the GIFs maintain relevancy to a topic. In essence, the more relevant a GIF, the longer it exists. Similarly, if a GIF is popular, it will have a greater fecundity. GIFs gain popularity depending on social situations, and if more situations occur, the GIF will be viewed more. As for copy fidelity, GIFs are extremely easy to create (as I discovered in last week’s lab). Anybody with access to PhotoShop or a GIF-creating website will have no problem copying GIFs. With these three factors, the lifespan of a GIF can be extremely short or as long as the Internet exists. Regardless, GIFs have played an important role in the digital media age and will continue to do so for decades.
Baym, Nancy K. Personal Connections in the Digital Age. Cambridge, UK: Polity, 2010. Print.
Buck, Stephanie. “The History of GIFs.” Mashable. N.p., 19 Oct. 2012. Web. 06 Feb. 2015. http://mashable.com/2012/10/19/animated-gif-history/.
Dawkins, Richard. The Selfish Gene. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1976. Print.
GIF citations are located within the description.