Remember last year, when everyone was arguing about the proper way to pronounce those weird moving pictures we all send each other? People went to war over how to properly pronounce those three letters. Lines were drawn in the sand. Friendships were ended. The word “giraffe” was used incorrectly as an example by many amateur phoneticists. And none of it matters. Whether the pronunciation you used was proved right or wrong, you’re still a loser for using GIFs.
The English language is incredible. There are 171,476 different words that you can use in whichever order you please to make any possible feeling, thought, action, or idea come to life. You can use these words to write anything, from a classic novel that will be discussed in 10th grade English classes for centuries to come, to a column claiming that Stevie Wonder is faking his blindness. These amazing words can be used to write song lyrics that give you goosebumps and inspire you to greatness, and those same exact words can then be used to make a basic caption for an Instagram photo. The point I’m trying to make is, in a world where we have so many words at our disposal, if you need to use a little video clip instead of them, you’re either lazy, unoriginal, or not funny.
I’m not saying there’s no time or place for GIFs. I love when people use GIFs of sports highlights on Twitter so I don’t have to load a video and replay it multiple times. I also have a high regard for people that discover or create original GIFs. That takes either extreme wittiness or extreme boredom; I’m not sure which. But using GIFs as reaction pieces? Come on guys, we’re all better than that. I know it can be hard to think of a funny or witty response to the group chat, but you’re just embarrassing yourself by mindlessly sending that blinking white guy meme. You’re mailing it in, and it’s obvious. You’re telling your friends that you don’t have the wittiness to craft a joke with your own words, and you’re too lazy to even plagiarize someone else’s. Instead, you clicked on the GIF keyboard, found a clip of someone making a shocked face, and pasted it into the chat like that makes you any more original than if you had used an emoji, or even just typed out “I’m shocked.”
Using GIFs in a chat is the online equivalent of your friend that only uses movie quotes in conversations. Sure, there may be a rare occasion where the right Anchorman quote can land and be humorous. But for every one of those, you get a hundred “I’m in a glass cage of emotion!” lines that don’t make any sense. That guy’s not funny. No one talks about the time that guy just killed the room with a Superbad quote that we’ve all been hearing for the past ten years (Yeah, that movie came out in 2007. I feel old as fuck).
You know who else uses GIFs? My mother. I love my mother to death, and she has a myriad of talents and skills, but funniness is not one of them. In my 25 years of life, she’s made exactly one joke that got laughs, and it was her calling me a douchebag during Thanksgiving dinner. In retrospect, that may not have been a joke, but all my brothers and cousins certainly thought it was hilarious. Don’t be my Jewish mother. Don’t be the “movie quotes” guy. Be the person who takes the effort to use words to craft an original, funny response to things. Even if your lines doesn’t land, at least then the rest of the group can show off their wittiness by roasting you for your bad jokes. When the group chat is popping, everyone wins. .