GIFs are the currency of the web. Buzzfeed’s massively popular GIFsticles (an insane double portmanteau describing a listicle, or an article in list form, illustrated with GIFs) have had a trickle-down effect of the rest of the internet. Every editor is putting up GIF posts as sacrifices to the god of pageviews (and while you’re here, check out ours!), and friends are Gchatting each other posts from the enormously popular What Should We Call Me. Why actually explain your emotions in words when a GIF of Tyra Banks rolling her eyes will accurately depict how totally over it you are? GIFs are easy and fun, unlike pretty much everything else in life.
In a example of how thoroughly GIFs have snuck into every aspect of our online lives, the Planned Parenthood Tumblr recently made a post explaining Obamacare through Hunger Games GIFs. Planned Parenthood is trying to do a good thing here, by making healthcare accessible for everyone, and have correctly interpreted the way to do that is “illustrate everything with pop culture GIFs.” The assumption is that this format gets the information to people who wouldn’t ordinarily be getting it, and if the post gets some Hunger Games fan to investigate her health insurance, that’s great. But how am I supposed to take my reproductive health seriously when a continuous loop of Effie Trinket is trying to remind me to take my pill?
Our institutions shouldn’t need to channel Buzzfeed to communicate with us. At this rate, White House press releases are going to start incorporating GIFs from Scandal. We love Olivia Pope, but can’t we stick to actual words for some things? Although I have to admit, if you’re not a politician or a healthcare provider, sometimes a GIF really does feel like the best way to express how you’re feeling. Cause every time I leave the pharmacy with my newly free birth control, I’m like: