The GIF that keeps on… GIFfing?
Wrestling with my own mortality because I still use GIFs
Ever see something online that hits just a little too close to home? For me, it was this tweet from writer Jenny Zhang a few months back:
Oh no, I thought, seeing the tweet. I use GIFs. Not so much the “reaction GIF” genre (see: “Blinking guy,” “Will Ferrell in Anchorman saying ‘That escalated quickly,’” and so on.) Does that… make me old? Am I out-of-touch? I just turned 35. Holy crap, I just turned 35, oh no! How am I already 35? Where has my youth gone?!
The Present Age is a reader-supported newsletter. While a free version of the newsletter exists, paid subscriptions make this work possible.
To be clear, Zhang’s tweet is great. The replies and quote tweets to it are also really good. Only a few people seemed to take genuine offense to it while the rest of us chuckled over another reminder of our collective mortality. Fun!
It got me thinking about Bo Burnham’s song about turning 30:
I used to make fun of the boomers
In retrospect, a bit too much
Now all these f*cking zoomers
Are telling me that I'm out of touch? Oh yeah?
Well, your f*cking phones are poisoning your minds, okay?
So when you develop a dissociative mental disorder in your late '20s
Don't come crawling back to me
I can relate… plus some, given that I long blew past 30 on my way to 35.
Thinking about that tweet led me to check out what sort of odd GIFs I have saved on my phone.
Back in the early-mid 2000s, I learned how to make GIFs out of a handful of still images. “Look! Animation!” (Sort of not really…) I used to make them to use as my AOL Instant Messenger Buddy Icons. It was good fun. Even at the time, GIF felt like a pretty ancient file type. I think part of my connection to them is that they have outlived their purposes and usefulness. There are other, better file types out there for animations and videos, yet the GIF perseveres.
Some of my favorite GIFs I’ve ever made are just plain… weird.
I’m fascinated by the many different ways we communicate with each other, and how those ways are always evolving.
Words to emoticons to emoji. Video to GIFs back to videos, etc. The world is forever changing and we’re all getting older. Zhang’s tweet gave me a good laugh and oddly, a bit of reassurance that I’m growing older and that’s okay.