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BYU study reveals what your use of GIFs says about you

Responding with a GIF adds a visual element to the conversation that goes beyond text to express emotion

SHARE BYU study reveals what your use of GIFs says about you
The Shiba Inu dog, the meme for the Shiba Inu token, a former of Shib cryptocurrency.

The Shiba Inu dog, the meme for the Shiba Inu token, a former of Shib cryptocurrency.

Alex Cochan, Deseret News

GIFs, like memes, are a product of internet communication. Responding with a GIF adds a visual element to the conversation that goes beyond text to express emotion. Oftentimes, GIFs have some connection to pop culture.

Gen Zers and millennials use them quite often, but did you know that there’s GIF scholarship that sheds light on what your use of GIFs says about you?

The kind of GIF user you are

A team of researchers from Brigham Young University, including Scott Haden Church, Tom Robinson, Jesse King and Clark Callahan, published a study on Wednesday that analyzed how different people use GIFs. According to the study, three subgroups of GIF users were identified: enthusiasts, searchers and referentialists.

Enthusiasts are the ones who are “well-versed in internet culture, and often want to be recognized as such,” according to a press release about the study. This group loves using GIFs to make others laugh and they know the library of potential GIFs well — they’re frequent users of them. An enthusiast is someone who is unafraid to use GIFs in common conversation.

On the other hand, searchers use GIFs for humor almost exclusively, but spend time searching for them for the right situation. They’re unlikely to use GIFs in conversations that are more sensitive, but they’ll search for the perfect GIF when they use it.

Referentialists use GIFs for their references to pop culture. They’re likely to use a GIF because they like the connection it has to a particular show or song. They’re the type of user to send a GIF to a friend because of the pop culture reference more so than they are the type of user to send GIFs constantly in conversation.

Their research will lay a new foundation for GIF research.

What does GIF stand for?

GIF stands for graphics interchange format. GIFs allow people to react to things on the internet without using text.

How to use GIFs when texting

If you have an iPhone, using GIFs is easy. Open up a conversation with a friend and underneath the space where you type your message, there will be a bar of small icons: a photo one, an Apple cash one and more.

Click on the button that’s a red color with a magnifying glass and you’ll see GIFs pop up with a search bar that says “find images.”

If you have an Android, you may have to download a third party application to send them. According to WikiHow, you can download an app like Gboard (the Google keyboard) and then, when you open up text messages again, there’ll be an icon for you to search and send GIFs with ease.

Who made the first GIF?

One of the first GIFs ever was made by Steve Wilhite. According to Smithsonian Magazine, he was trying to solve the problem of making an image that didn’t take up too much space on the computer. It was 1987 — before the age of quick computers with lots of storage.

Over time, GIFs evolved from being a static picture to what they are now, which is a picture that often has some moving parts like text that flashes across the screen.

What’s the difference between memes and GIFs?

GIFs are animated pictures and memes are static pictures. Even though GIFs originally were also static pictures, the term now commonly refers to animated pictures. Both GIFs and memes tend to be humorous or relevant to pop culture.