The Animated GIF: The Antithesis of Mindfulness


People who like GIFs (a series of images that create the impression of movement) are the same folks who slow down on the freeway to try to catch a glimpse of something gruesome after a car wreck. Ok, that’s a bit of an over-generalization taken out of context meant to be incendiary, which is a pretty good definition of an animated GIF.

There is a reason I’m on WordPress rather than Tumblr: I believe in writing. I believe in meticulously delving into an issue and exploring all possibilities and points of view. I believe in exposition rather than reductionism.

By definition, a GIF is reductive. It takes something that happens over time and reduces it to an easily consumed meme for short attention spans. Although some of these animations can be witty, artistic, political, and/or hilarious, something gets lost in the splicing of these images that reveals a disturbing trend on the internet and in society in general.

I get really annoyed driving in a car with my teenage cousins. They listen to a song on the radio that they “love,” and halfway through the song, they change the station until they find another song that they “love.” Since they never make it to the end of a song, there is no way in cyberspace that they are going to sit down and listen to an entire double record rock opera like The Who’s Quadrophenia or Pink Floyd‘s The Wall. 

It’s not their fault, of course. YouTube made the 3 minute video the standard. Post anything over three minutes and you run the risk of not being clicked on at all. I just did a search for Quadrophenia on Youtube and found the entire film in two parts. Part one got 99,041 views and part two got only 31,611 views. That means that two thirds of the viewers didn’t even stick around to hear “Love Reign O’er Me.” That’s like watching Star Wars and leaving the theater before the Death Star gets blown up.

Animated GIFs are like YouTube on crack cocaine. Most of the GIFs I found were less than 5 seconds long. If we looked at these numbers in a different context maybe we could get some well needed perspective. Less than three minutes would be considered a premature ejaculation by most experts and 99% of sexual partners. Imagine a sexual experience that lasted as long as the average animated GIF. I hate to say it, but that is where we are headed. Even GIF artist Pamela Reed of Reed+Rader admits, “We get bored really, really quick, and it’s always about doing the next thing…” Luckily, the GIF is on an infinite loop, so there is no refractory period, but I don’t know any man in the history of humankind who is built this way–even the fictional character Dirk Diggler in Boogie Nights comes up short–no pun intended.

I came

All kidding aside, I’m seriously concerned with the effects of GIFs on our society. Even now, I am hesitant to click on the “Read more” link when I see “1,861 more words” while scrolling down the Reader of blogs that I follow. Yet I know that, like my meditation practice, I will be glad I put the time and effort into doing something that does not come with instant gratification. I can’t imagine how impatient I will get after years of consuming 4 second GIFs.

Moreover, GIFs are antithetical to two of the practices that I feel are essential to happiness: mindfulness and patience. If you read my blog, you know that I try to appreciate and be grateful for every moment, no matter how mundane, pedestrian, or painful. GIFs literally rob us of moments of tenderness, subtlety, and appreciation, leaving us with just pornography. (I might have overused the sexual analogy there, but I blame it on the “I CAME” GIF that is looping over and over as I try to write this critique.)

Some of you also know that my favorite quote from the Bible is James 1:2-4.

2 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into trials;
3 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.
4 But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

I believe that we need to “worketh” patience in order to be “perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” GIFs “worketh” impatience and desire. We want more and more with less and less patience. Let me ask fellow bloggers who took up this Weekly Writing Challenge, how many GIFs did you click on while writing your post? Didn’t it get addictive scrolling down a Tumblr page consuming all the available GIFs within seconds? Did you get sensory overload after a few pages? For some reason, while I was scrolling through page after page of GIFs, I started singing Green Day’s song “Longview“:

Sit around and watch the tube, but nothing’s on
I change the channels for an hour or two
Twiddle my thumbs just for a bit
I’m sick of all the same old s*#t

I don’t like how I’m feeling after a few hours of researching and writing this post, so I might go outside and find someone to hug. I do know, however, that I will never, ever, ever use GIFs in any of my posts ever.

Thank you for reading, sharing, and/or smiling.

Do you think I’m completely off base with this critique? One can argue that fast food has lead to the crisis of obesity in the US. What do you think the effects of “fast media” will be on our populace? Please share.

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109 comments on “The Animated GIF: The Antithesis of Mindfulness

  1. True. I like the whole scene with foreplay and the rest. Building a story requires seduction before the engagement of keyboard and screen. And it’s only – 1861 words later – that the climax finally grants relief to the pent-up emotion of interplay between writer and reader. Great post – I enjoyed it!

    • Kozo says:

      Thanks, Amos. I specifically linked to your post because I am always grateful after I finish one of your posts. Your writing is an example of something that can never be captured in a gif.

  2. NIKOtheOrb says:

    Dude, one of your best posts I’ve read. Excellent topic with an informative, unprejudiced critique of what has become an archetype of the digital age (you have a true and witty talent for an expansive array of subject matter on your blog).

    No, I don’t think you’ve gone too far with this post. It was thought that the television would “rot the brains” of the constant viewer and that “culture” would be lost to its blue-monocled glow. However, the internet (with its instant delivery of data/information in an instant) has far surpassed what the television age has done to society. And it’s not only with .gifs. Think of the shift in language and understanding emoticons and textspeak/netspeak has caused. Language is a means to convey complex meanings in a concise and clearly understandable manner, but when so much of complex thought is condensed into a “smiley” or an acronym, what is the long-term effect on brain processing? It has changed the way information/data can be delivered and understood. And the digital age is but a mere 22 years old. What’s next?

    Brilliant post! :-) <—this is not a false representation, I am genuinely smiling. LOL <–and, no, I'm not really laughing out loud, what's a smiley without an acronym? *laughing*

    • Kozo says:

      Thank you so much, Niko. I was a bit apprehensive about this post. I’m so relieved that you caught the gist. Obviously, we are in an awkward position because we are critiquing the internet ON the internet. I think that the internet and the GIF are incredible tools that are capable of new forms of expression and spiritual growth, but far too often they are reduced to forms of mental fast food.
      Let’s keep delving into this issue with our blogs.
      P.S. I love the smiley face and LOL along with critique. ;)

  3. Sarah says:

    Awesome post! I agree and disagree. I agree that like anything that robs us of the practice of being patient or being content, gifs are negative entities. I have found some extremely amusing ones, however, that flex my smile muscles and add humour to my day – a positive thing. I have only ever used one, but have a post in mind about my son that may include a gif. My apologies in advance! :)

    • Kozo says:

      No apology necessary, Sarah. Notice how many GIFs I used in this post. I actually enjoyed adding motion to my blog. The hug from The Office is how I feel sometimes when I really need a hug. I agree that GIFs can be incredibly entertaining, especially Cinemagraphs.
      Can’t wait to see the GIF of your son dancing Gangnam Style. :o

  4. shatashari says:

    I worry for the man in the first image: Is he alright?
    I don’t care for the current trend of GIFs. Most of what I encountered are the annoying ones used in advertisement. I did see a couple on Fish of Gold’sblog that is truly a form of art, but mostly, I agree that this trend of instant gratification is a bad thing.

    • Kozo says:

      I think it was a test crash, Shadoza, but I’m not positive. I like the way you are concerned about the man in the GIF while most people just laugh at him. You must be a very empathetic person.
      I really want to make some artistic cinemagraphs like the ones on Fish of Gold’s blog in the future, but I agree most of the GIFs are just to catch a click.
      Thanks for the comment.

  5. Grumpa Joe says:

    Super fast flashes of animated scenes will cause us to evolve thoughts that are so fast they will get ahead of us and take us into the future. A Time Machine?

    • Kozo says:

      Haha. Great thinking, Grumpa Joe. Maybe with this time machine we can travel back in time when things moved a bit slower and we were able to enjoy the moment. Wait. Can’t we just do that now? :) Thanks for the comment and visit.

  6. solving4x says:

    Congratulations! You finally got your Freshly Pressed gig! Well deserved! :)

  7. So-and-So says:

    I’m generally inclined to agree with you, but that thought bubble in Homer’s mind has me thinking. I could watch that all day. *scrolls back up to watch*

    Okay. I’m over it.

    • Kozo says:

      GIFs “opiate of the masses.” The same thing happened to me when I saw a watermelon catapult GIF. Talk about mind control. Thanks for commenting. Love your screen name, So and So

  8. Fatima says:

    People consume GIFs than actually think about what they mean. When they take the place of words, in some cases all the time, it starts to drive me crazy. I actually clicked off blog posts for having too many GIFs. I figured if a person can’t use a vocabulary, then I don’t have to see the post.

    • Kozo says:

      Great comment, Fatima. Maybe it is because of too much “fast media” that people are losing their vocabulary. See NikotheOrbs comment above. Thanks for the comment.

  9. I struggle with this same phenomenon as a blog writer who believes that quality writing and getting your point across must be done in more than 140 characters. It’s an epidemic in our society: opinions are half-formed, nothing is thought through properly and concepts are only semi-understood. We have no sense of pleasure or enjoyment of the things in our lives. It scares me, as someone who cherishes creative self-expression and communication. Will anyone bother reading great literary works, will people even take the time to write? I’ve gotten a few comments from friends and family, “I like your blog but I have nooo time to read it”. And other people urging me to keep posts short. I appreciate succinctness but some concepts are complex and deserve that time and attention be paid to them. I will also never use GIFs on my blog! Viva La Slow Revolution!

    • Kozo says:

      Thanks for the comment of more than 140 characters, Talia. haha. I’m sure creative self-expression and communication will survive, but in a different form. I also think people will continue to “write,” but in a different form. My concern is that we will miss the Now by speeding everything up to a destination that skips the journey. So I join your chant, “Viva La Slow Revolution.”

    • “opinions are half-formed, nothing is thought through properly and concepts are only semi-understood. We have no sense of pleasure or enjoyment of the things in our lives.” I so agree–in graduate school for Ph.D. in theology and philosophy, there was a celebration of “time wasted” on each other (a la The Little Prince) and on ideas. Sure, let’s live in the moment of mindfulness but our society seems only to pursue disconnected moments–a few at a time–without allowing any experience or idea or discussion to deepen, mellow, show itself in its joyous subtleties and nuances. My act of rebellion was to change jobs. I now work as a therapeutic musician in a psych hospital because I simply relish “wasting time” on one person, hopefully walking a step at a time with them on a quiet road to healing… no matter how long it takes. Thanks for your thoughtful reflections, Kozo & Talia… I’d gladly take the time to read your blogs!

      • Kozo says:

        Thank you, Diane for this beautiful comment. I felt like one of your patients in the hospital enjoying the therapeutic music of your prose. You hit on something that is very important to me–by losing mindfulness, we lose pleasure and enjoyment. When I was researching this post, at first I was thrilled by the animated GIFs. But the more I consumed, the less pleasure I felt. Pretty soon I didn’t even feel like writing. I literally had to go outside and just stand in the sun under a tree to get my joy back.
        It reminds me of a line from Clint Eastwood’s film Gran Torino. A Hmong medicine man tells Clint’s character that when he eats his food has no taste. My life started to get like this when I rushed through my meals and moments. Now, I try to savor every bite and moment. I am savoring this comment. Thank you.

  10. I feel the same way. I even ignored this post when I saw the GIF and didn’t bother looking any further when it came into my Reader ;-) But came back today and saw THAT very post was Fresh Pressed ….well, so I read it. And I agree with ever word…and very well said. Congrats….very well deserved.

    • Kozo says:

      Thanks, Paula. As you know, this post does not really represent the gist of this blog. I was doing the weekly writing challenge, and I am grateful for being Fresh Pressed, but I’m not so much about critique as I am about community and “spiritual re-hydration.” Thanks for coming back and reading the post. Look for more uplifting posts in the near future.

  11. jilrob says:

    Well, at least I can say that I read your post all the way through! Seriously, I totally agree with you – we’re all getting hooked on those little bursts of dopamine that come with instant gratification. It feels like a struggle against the tide to do things differently, but keep at it!

    • Kozo says:

      Thanks for reading and commenting, Jilrob. Yeah, it is kind of ironic that I am writing a critique of GIFs with GIFs in the post. Some readers won’t read a post with GIFs and a lot of those readers are the ones with whom I want to have a conversation. On the other hand, others want to see cool GIFs, but don’t want to read much, so my post doesn’t do much for them either. I guess what I’m trying to say is thank you so much for reading and commenting. How’s that for triple redundancy? I blame it on looping GIFs. haha.

  12. “People who like GIFs … are the same folks who slow down on the freeway to try to catch a glimpse of something gruesome after a car wreck.”

    I like the analogy. I think you are dead on with this. I find most GIFs annoying, some are even offensive but I too have found myself slowing down to catch a glimpse. Great post and congrats on being “freshly pressed.”

    • Kozo says:

      Thanks, Darlene. I actually checked out your GIF post a few days ago. I love the GIF of you slapping your hubby. haha
      Truth be told, I’m also a rubbernecker. I think we all enjoy something quick, stimulating, and exciting every once in a while. I enjoyed looking at some of the artsy cinemagraphs while researching this post. My beef is with the replacement of prose with “cool” GIFs. For example, the political GIF is very divisive in my opinion.
      Thanks for reading and commenting. Also, thanks for the volunteer work you do in Belize.

  13. Martinicity says:

    Yikes, I couldn’t even read everything. You’ve inspired me to remove an annoying animated gif from one of my posts, so thanks!

    • Kozo says:

      Thanks for the comment, Martinicity. I used to have a surfer friend out in Cocoa Beach. I visited once and saw the space shuttle launch. Good times. I love the idea of a double par golf blog. Thanks for visiting.

  14. emilyism says:

    Really wonderful and thoughtful post. I especially liked what you said about songs and the radio. I am a teen myself, but it maddens me that we’re losing the art of the album and it’s all about singles. I love albums and finding narratives in them and there’s no pleasure quite like coming to love a song that you were ambiguous towards at first. Likewise, I notice a lot of people are reluctant to see longer movies. A good 2 1/2 hour movie is stunning, I want to tell them! A good 400 page book will stick with you forever! It’s really our loss when we let our attention spans be condensed. Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed!

    • Kozo says:

      OMG, Emily. You just made my day. A teenager who knows the value in a 400 page book and listens to entire albums. You are my Episode IV–A New Hope. Keep on keepin on.
      By the way, I want my virtual hug and vanilla cupcakes. Stay tuned, my next post is all about virtual hugs.
      Thanks for visiting, commenting, and being.

      • emilyism says:

        That’s the first time I’ve been called an episode of Star Wars – pretty much the best compliment ever! You’ve earned those vanilla cupcakes and that virtual hug and I will definitely be back for your next post. Happy Friday!

  15. PCGuyIV says:

    I just read another post about animated GIF’s (http://honestpuck.wordpress.com/2012/11/28/animated-gifs-junk-or-art/comment-page-1/#comment-53) and the example at the top of their post is probably one of the most awesome things I’ve seen in a long time, but on the whole I agree that they are typically flat out awful and reminiscent of bad Geocities sites from the 90’s.

  16. segmation says:

    The Animated GIF: The Antithesis of Mindfulness of The Antithesis of Mindlessness maybe?

  17. Barbara Backer-Gray says:

    Great post. And helpful, too. I had not heard about animated GIFs and had no idea what they were. So for the challenge, I was going to research them and see it as more of a prompt to keep myself up-to-date with technology. But just seeing those two animated GIFs in your post has changed my mind. They drove me crazy!

    • Kozo says:

      Thanks for the comment, Barbara. Imagine how irritating those GIFs were while i was trying to compose the post. I had to go outside and get some fresh air after writing the post. I can’t imagine watching those things all day on Tumblr.

  18. iamalivep05 says:

    Great post. I agree with several of your comments, and I especially liked your story about your teenage cousins in the car. I do, however, submit that GIFs are meant to act more as avatars and give brief moments of joy. I don’t think they have a negative impact on society. People look them up and laugh at them in the same way people look up cheezeburgers and failblog, which I imagine have the same impact. I for one find gifs extremely casual, meaning I rarely see them but when I do I often find them funny.

    One crucial thing I do agree on, however, is your YouTube observation. Long videos have a risk of not being clicked on. People think “Hm, interesting…oh god its like 11 minutes. Can’t be bothered”, which I think is quite common. This is a shame. Videos were longer before.

    • Kozo says:

      Thanks for the comment, Espen. I agree that GIFs are not harmful in and of themselves. I think the point about YouTube is more relevant. There is a trend happening that reveals a decrease in patience and mindfulness. If someone can’t be bothered to watch 11 minutes of a video, how can they read a book?

      • iamalivep05 says:

        I agree. I think it has to do with a certain overdose addiction of internet entertainment. Sites like YouTube has shown us everything, and we are looking for the newest “kick” that makes us laugh or impressed. When people are bored they browse, but they are not gonna browse long videos, they are gonna jump between short ones.
        (sorry if this was a doublepost, wordpress bugged).

  19. Kozo says:

    Espen, good point. What I learned from my teenaged cousins is that all they do is browse. They rarely take the time to get immersed into something. It has already started with my five year old son. He jumps from YouTube to Angry Birds to Netflix and leaves without finishing a thing. He even eats half his food and starts leaving the table while chewing. A five minute time out is torture for him. I might have to start giving 30 minute time out/meditation periods whenever he does not finish a video or song. haha. I’m a tyrant.
    Thanks for the insight and conversation.

  20. This is an excellent Site . i really enjoy it

  21. But I LOVE GIfs! :'( …I think you might have a point though.

  22. Catherine says:

    Its the same with reading, I heard on the NPR yesterday that book sales continue to decline, even ebook sales. People aren’t reading or writing – which are fundamental to an intelligent society. We are devolving making things ‘simpler’ and ‘easier’ to digest. Whatever happened to some good ol critcal thinking. Its hard to criticize this though because hundreds of years ago big portions of society were illiterate. People will do what they will with their education – there will always be people who love art and there will always be people who educate the curious on how to appreicate different art forms. As for the masses – they will continue to mass and follow the trends and others will profit off of that. It is a strange world we live in – the human brain can be so much or it can shrink to so little that it can only find enterainment in a 5 second GIF. Congrats on being Freshly Pressed – you managed to engage me in some critical thought! Now onto the next post…

    • Kozo says:

      Catherine,
      Thanks for the insightful post. I agree: Critical thinking is going down the poop shoot of Google. I used to teach critical thinking, and you won’t believe how many students wrote papers that only referenced the internet. Some even referenced YouTube videos.
      I love your time perspective. Maybe we are headed for another Dark Age where a few brave souls will lead the masses out of Plato’s Cave of illusions.

  23. My corcern is that no one allows themselves to be bored anymore. Any time I got bored, it would spark something creative in me. Now I find kids treating boredom as if it were an insult.

    • Kozo says:

      Good point, Bluebead. I used to get bored a lot when I was a kid until I learned that I was responsible for the boredom. The boredom was inside of me, not in what I was doing or where I was. Now I’m rarely bored. I think you are right that kids treat boredom as an insult nowadays. They will never learn this valuable lesson without going through the steps of boredom.

  24. I think these are funny but could you post animal ones? I would like that. thx.

  25. rarasaur says:

    :) I plead the fifth of animated gifs, but I did want to say “Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed!” — it’s well-deserved!

    • rarasaur says:

      Oi, plead the fifth ON animated gifs. I need to proofread and THEN post. I always get that out of order. :)

      • Kozo says:

        Oh, now I understand. haha. Thanks for the congrats. You are going to have to show me where you get one of those badges for the side menu.

    • Kozo says:

      I would also plead for 1/5 of GIFs, Rara.The other 4/5 are trash. haha

      • rarasaur says:

        haha! So maybe I didn’t make a typo– maybe I was being accidentally intellectual about my stance on gifs! :) For the badge, you just go to the “widgets” section of your blog (in your dashboard, on the side, in the appearance section)… and there should now magically be a “freshly pressed” badge widget to add.

      • Kozo says:

        Rara, that’s the only way I can be intellectual–accidentally. Thanks for helping me find the Freshly Pressed Badge. It so simpo! Those WordPress Gods are so clever.

  26. I really enjoyed reading your post. Thanks for sharing. Personally, I love rich visual imagery … It’s the way I think and communicate.

    The best art has ambiguity. For me, I like having the time and silence to appreciate this.

    But now, everyday is like an animated gif. The average person is exposed to 3,500 advertising messages a day. We devour images, resources and ideas.

    And along the way, I think we’re debasing and dehumanizing them.

    • Kozo says:

      Great point, L&L. I forgot about the overwhelming amount of advertisements. A lot of the GIFs I see are advertisements. They may not be selling something, but they are definitely fishing for a click.
      Looks like we share a lot in common–teachers, filmmakers, people who value art and science. I look forward to conversing with you on our blogs.

  27. Dieu says:

    We live in a society of instant gratification – that I agree. Most gifs are annoying, but I have come across some beautiful and poetic GIFs, like one of rain drops falling on a pond causing continuous ripples, or one of snow falling in a forest. I think the ones that capture a single beautiful moment are lovely, but so many people don’t use the medium in more artistic ways, opting instead to create the visual equivalent of a one-liner joke.

    • Kozo says:

      Dieu,
      I looked up the rain falling GIF. You are right. The animated GIF does allow us to be more poetic visually. I am definitely going to learn how to make cinemagraphs, so I can add beauty to the internet in new ways. Thanks for your insight.

  28. I love GIF’s, but you are right. They are the embodiment of a shortening attention span. This is an epidemic. Some of my posts have done well on reddit but when you read criticism or responses, it’s obvious no one read the entire post. How did we ever sit still to learn things as children?

    • Kozo says:

      Brent,
      I love your blog name, because I love kimchi. It is disheartening when we realize that someone did not read our posts, but I am thankful for people like you who read and comment.
      I’m already teaching my children (2 and 5 years old) how to meditate. Hopefully, they will be able to sit still for 10 minutes by the time they reach college. haha

  29. GP says:

    Reblogged this on misentopop.

  30. M.J. Miello says:

    Thank you for this. I had never considered the GIF as an example of the shrinking attention span but I completely agree with you. I first came across this topic studying learned industriousness (Robert Eisenberger) who describes the way people learn to tolerate effort only by having their effort rewarded. Today it is so easy to find rewards for instant gratification that there is no reason to learn to tolerate effort. So you are absolutely right. Younger generations get bored at about the 3 minute mark. And as such much of the big pay offs in enjoyment (like reading a classic novel or watching an artistic film) are simply out of their reach.

    • Kozo says:

      Great point about the “learned industriousness” M.J. I’m going to have to read some Eisneberger. My kids have a tough time sitting still in church, but I guarantee you that when they are older, I will force them to sit still and watch all of Seven Samurai and read all of Moby Dick.

  31. jiltaroo says:

    Firstly, I didn’t know what a GIF was. So now that I am enlightened, I realize that this trend worries me in my boys. They like to watch a movie but seem to have the need to be on you tube or FB as well. If it is a movie we are watching together, I tell them to put the devices away. I’m certain they miss the subtleties and plots and just skate over the top of the story without all the images or dialogue. We are dumbing down our kids with this cheap porn. However, we can play a part in this to mitigate the affect by providing and insisting on more to life than just that. Hopefully, with a taste of what is out there, they will hunger for more than Gif’s and Playboy!

    • Kozo says:

      Jiltaroo,
      I completely agree. Let’s make a pact of no media devices at the dinner table or when watching a movie. Judging from what you have experienced in your incredible life, I’m sure your boys will grow up to be respectful men.

  32. Ah Kozo!! You got freshly pressed and I missed it somehow ?! Congratulations my friend..

  33. David Elkins says:

    Although I don’t totally agree with your position here, I think I have a collection of GIFs that you might find kind of interesting. To me, they are the antithesis of the thoughtlessness you see in most GIFs:

    http://iwdrm.tumblr.com

    To me, most good GIFs are like haikus. They present a single image, a moment in time, with the least possible commentary. Without context, with the minimum amount of interference from its creator, a good GIF can be incredibly powerful. Check out the link above. I think you might like them.

    • Kozo says:

      David,
      These are brilliant. We seem to have the same taste in films. If you don’t mind, can you point me in the direction of how to make these–program and any tips?

  34. Oh, Lord, I wish I’d made those! By “I have,” I meant “I can share with you.” Whoever makes those is a genius. So subtle. So restrained. And with such a careful eye. The only direction I can give you is that this kind of GIF is called a cinemagraph.

    Another great website is http://oh-so-coco.tumblr.com/tagged/cinemagraph although it’s more about fashion than film.

    • Kozo says:

      I agree those cinemagraphs are genius. Thank you for sharing. I am now a member of Tumblr. Whodathunk? I still stand by my premise that “fast media” IN GENERAL is counterproductive. haha.

      • I can totally get behind that critique. I guess the reason I’m a GIF apologist is because when used properly, they can become this multimedia tissue of quotations. Stripped from their original context and used as critique or satire, I think they’ve got a power and an immediacy that words alone can’t quite match. Not to say that we should abandon real communication for GIFs, but I see them as an interesting weapon in the arsenal. But, I’m definitely a lot closer to your position than it may seem from my comments.

  35. Um, you seem to be a tad behind the times. Animated gifs were an ideal form of animation being a few hundred k when we had 56k modems. With high speed broad band and proper capture. my last was of a dancer an avatar in a club drifting in and out of sunlight Its over a minutes and 375 x 346 pixels. It is 6.4 megbytes with a javascript player embedded it is over a minute long. You can see lots of examples on my blog. Filmed correctly there is no end or beginning but a continual seamless show. The 256 colo0ur limit can be overcome by using cyber objects rather than real ones. See sl dot irishsecure dot com . I capture images and motion using Camtasia Studio.

    • Kozo says:

      Wow, I just checked out your animations. They are really impressive. You obviously know what you are doing. When I looked for animated GIFs while writing this post, most of the GIFs I found were pretty short–less than 5 seconds. Your animations seem like an exception, but I could be totally mistaken. Thanks for the information.

  36. iloveth33 says:

    Reblogged this on iloveth33 and commented:
    SPATTTTAAAARRRR

  37. [...] The Animated GIF: The Internet’s Version of Premature Ejaculation (everydaygurus.com) [...]

  38. honestpuck says:

    I disagree wholeheartedly, Kozo.

    Your premise is that an animated GIF is a shortened movie and therefore reductive. Given the examples in your post it is hard to disagree.

    However I’d say that if you look at the cinemagraphs of Beck and Burg, among others, what you have is a still that has been extended and therefore additive.

    In those animated GIFs you have an artist who has taken a photograph and extended it to draw your eye and focus onto a part of a moment captured in time. This is art.

    • Kozo says:

      I completely agree with you, Tony. I think Cinemagraphs are art. I love the work of Beck and Burg. Like all great art, these cinemagraphs actually add to our understanding and appreciation of the moment. I would argue, however, that these GIFs are not the norm. Most animated GIFs on the internet are reductive. Actually, with sites like Twitter, YouTube, and Tumblr, a large percentage of media on the internet is reductive. This is what bothers me. People are so impatient that they will no longer watch a whole movie or listen to a whole album.
      I do appreciate that cinemagraphs make one slow down and stare like a van Gogh painting.
      I’m happy that they put both our posts next to each other, so that readers get two different perspectives. Thanks for the comment. I look forward to conversing with you in the future.

  39. A Table in the Sun says:

    Yes, people have forgotten what true writing sounds like. Everyone is in such a hurry. Sometimes, I like to go back and read the old classics, just to discover a long forgotten form of language. Thanks to Word Press, I can now read updated texts that amuse and interest me without sacrificing the art of writing.

    • Kozo says:

      I love your phrase “a long forgotten form of language.” I really feel like something is slowly slipping away. I agree that there is plenty on WP that preserve the art of writing.
      By the way, I visited your blog and had a blast. I even used your Five Things Wish List that Money Can’t Buy for my Everyday Thanksgiving. Thank you.

      • A Table in the Sun says:

        Thanks for passing along the wish list idea. Money is necessary to our society (so far)…..but it doesn’t have to be our focus. Can’t wait to read your next post.

  40. ladyruby07 says:

    Can’t you be both?

    I’m like a pitbull when I get onto a topic that catches me. I can write a 3,000+ words long essay on it (single spaced, Times New Roman 12 font.)

    But I love Tumblr. It makes me laugh. It lets me connect with people who enjoy the same shows and fandoms I do. And while I know that most of Tumblr is reblogging picture after picture of things that you enjoy (from photography and classic art to the GIFs you hate so much) I’ve also seen people on there write extensive dissertations on the feminism present in Doctor Who (as an example.) I’ve seen fantastic art and stories come out of people’s love for these common elements and it’s stuff that takes far more than 3 seconds to appreciate. (In the realm of GIFs, I find them fantastic for reactions to other people’s posts.) The art that people create and post on Tumblr can be easier to digest on that site simply because it’s more visually oriented than some other sites.

    I certainly see nothing wrong, however, with a 5 second GIF that can make me spit out my drink in surprise laughter (I am instantly reminded of a set with kitties who had been sedated by the vet coming home and trying to walk to the food dish.)

    I find that, as with any social media be it Facebook, Tumblr or WordPress, that you have to pick what you want at any given moment. Whether you’re on Facebook or WordPress depends on whether or not you want to chat with family members or friends, catching up on their lives, or whether you want to read a critique of that classic book you were made to read as a kid that you hated. Perhaps you’re hitting up LiveJournal to discuss baking techniques in that community you joined. Just because you spend 30 seconds on one thing doesn’t mean you’re not spending 3 hours on another.

    While one can argue that “fast media” is akin to fast food, the bigger thing I’ve always found is that it is peoples CHOICE to consume it. Yes, fast food makes you fat. Especially if you DECIDE to eat it all day every day. That is YOUR choice. While fast media could shorten attention spans, I don’t believe long, thoughtful media can make you more patient. You brought up Quadrophenia. I had a boyfriend once who was into Dream Theater. Just because a song or an album takes 10 or 12 hours to listen to doesn’t make it good.

    If it entertains you, if it makes you happy, then does the time you take on it even matter? I can sit and watch a 2 hour long documentary but if it bores me to tears, does the subject matter or the time I spent on it matter? It never held my interest in the first place. But if I watch a three minute YouTube video that gets me up dancing or makes me laugh like a hyena, does it hold less value simply for time taken? I was much more engaged in it than in the documentary.

    Time does not equal value.

    • Kozo says:

      Lady Ruby,
      First of all, thank you for this very thought-provoking, informative, and well-written comment. This is the kind of conversation I want to have on WordPress everyday.
      Second, I am now following your Tumblr page, so I look forward to your future posts and the possibility of spitting liquid all over my keyboard. :) The GIF of Kai Davis is powerful.
      Third, I don’t hate GIFs. My last line was meant to be a facetious allusion to Taylor Swift’s song. I obviously broke my promise since I have four GIFs in this post alone. I thought it was clever, but apparently I was the only one.
      Lastly, I completely agree with you that we have a choice of what we consume and time does not equal value. My concern is that it is hard for people to make an educated and healthy choice when all they see is fast food/media–on television, on the internet, on the street. I can tell that you are a very informed, intelligent, and well-read 25 year old, but I would also argue that you are extremely unique. You are like the vegan Yogini in a school full of obese children. Obesity is a documented problem, but I’m afraid that short attention span will be the next epidemic in the US.
      Once again, thank you for this very generous comment. I appreciate the time, wisdom, and effort it took to compose your response.

      • ladyruby07 says:

        1) You are very welcome. I enjoy being able to comment like this and have someone take me seriously and respond so. Nothing annoys me more than saying something like this on Facebook and being told that “lol ur being 2 srs.”

        2) YAY FOLLOWER! I love my followers. If you message me there, I will always respond. I love having conversations with people. What’s your URL? If I haven’t followed you back yet, I most certainly will (sometimes things get lost in the shuffle.) Warning: I spam dashes sometimes.

        3) I didn’t see that at first, but on second look, I do now.

        4) This might get long. First, I understand I’m different. There’s a lot that makes me different, from how I was raised to my life events. You are not the first person to tell me this. Second, I can understand your concern but I beg to differ.

        In the same way that I don’t blame food companies for putting out tasty food that we like to eat, I don’t blame advertising for short attention spans. If you create a dish that makes your taste buds sing, don’t you want to have others taste it? If you have a product you think people will like/need, don’t you want them to have it? The only way you can really do that is by advertising said product. Advertisers have a unique problem. The short-term/working memory capacity is only about 5-9 items and lasts no more than a minute. In order for advertising to be effective, one needs to make sure the product is remembered. Therefore, the product needs to make it into long-term memory. The other unique problem is that they don’t really have a lot of time to do that. With the exception of infomercials (a dying art), advertisers have only the space of short-term memory to hook you. So they do it in unique ways (catchy jingles, humor, memorable characters etc.) Basic psychology.

        The problem comes (in my view) from people themselves. There is a pervasive idea in our culture that poor impulse control is the norm and (like most other things I’ll get to in a minute) it’s not their fault. A well-adjusted, thinking person should remember said product but before purchasing anything (with the exception of a few things), why aren’t they looking it up on the internet or something? The BBB is easier to access than ever, so is Consumer Reports. The internet exposes horrible products faster than ever. It’s not hard and doesn’t take much time.

        It’s just that nobody wants to do it. Nobody wants to spend the time to think ahead. Aside from America’s ideals of “seize the day” and “YOLO,” we’re simply too lazy to do the research. We’d rather do what’s bad for us and blame something else. Blame video games for violence, instead of teaching your children the difference between fantasy and reality. Blame fast food for obesity, rather than yourself for being too lazy to cook. Blame fast media for short attention spans, rather than practicing patience and impulse control.

        You could more successfully argue the impact on children, but I think part of it is the parents in that case. If you spend your entire day running around saying “I don’t have time” instead of putting aside the less important things and making time, then you’ll have kids equally impatient. If you’re a young mother and haven’t taken responsibility for your kid, then your kid will be equally irresponsible whether it’s in picking up their toys or their failing grades or having kids too young themselves. But if you turn off the TV and sit down and read to your child, then they learn to take that time out of their lives. If you teach them the value of cooking and cleaning, then they’re less likely to drop money on a fast food burger because they know they make tastier ones.

        tl;dr: It’s not the media’s fault.

        [PS: Thanks for letting me break this out in your comments!]

      • Kozo says:

        Lady Ruby,
        Thank you for being you. I am honored that you took the time and effort to rebut my reply to your original comment.
        I completely agree–the blame game is a cop out. I think that my original fear of a “Fast Media Nation” stemmed from my own attraction to the fast media I was consuming and using to help raise my kids. It is so much easier to teach my sons how to use an iPad or Roku than it is to invest the time to read to them or play with them. I am guilty of putting on a Pixar film, so I can have time to blog. I was probably letting them watch Roku while I was writing this post on GIFs.
        I am going to make an effort to spend more quality time with my sons, so that maybe some day they will turn out to be bright, insightful, and articulate citizens like YOU.
        (P.S. I am now following your blog as well)

  41. [...] The Animated GIF: The Antithesis of Mindfulness. [...]

  42. eof737 says:

    You’re not off base but I have to say that the Cinemagraph is a cut above the kitschy run of the mill GIF and I’m hugging and loving it into the next decade… Surely more new ways of using the technology will surface… I just love them as a compliment to the written word not a replacement. Love your post. ;-) BTW, which post got FP? Congrats! :-)

    • Kozo says:

      This one, Eliz. Not one that really represents what this blog is about, but I’m grateful for all the hits and new followers. You were right on target about the FP being temporary, and the real gig being blogging. Thank you for your guidance, love, and {{{HUGS}}}.

      • eof737 says:

        Congratulations on being FP then!!!! WooHoo for you!… Now you know the secret. :lol: TY {{{HUGS}}}
        Ps. Did they have you change the original titillating title? :lol:

      • Kozo says:

        Thanks, Eliz. They changed the title on the FP page, and I followed suit. I figured that they found it inappropriate. I still second guess my postings after they are up. It is an odd type of publishing when you put something for the whole world to see without running past anyone else first.
        I’m so glad I “talked” to you before being FP’d. It is a very exciting, overwhelming, and odd experience. Your advice kept me on track–bows down at your feet.

      • eof737 says:

        Oh you are deserving! You did all the work and I’m happy for you… Still laughing at the title you had originally. :lol:

  43. [...] The Animated GIF: The Internet’s Version of Premature Ejaculation (everydaygurus.com) [...]

  44. [...] fact that I read the GIF post days after I scanned it stuck with [...]

  45. 1EarthUnited says:

    Hi Kozo, while I agree with you overall regarding the way our hyper accelerated mindless culture processes information; I find GIFs to be the “lesser evil”. I can see GIFs as a useful tool if implemented mindfully, tastefully. Of course anything can be taken to extremes, but I find GIFs rather harmless and can easily tune them out if necessary. Very informative post, thank you!

    • Kozo says:

      I agree, Maddy. In hindsight, I gave the GIF a bad rap. I think I am ranting against mindless consumption of the internet, not necessarily GIFs. Although the argument can be made that anything can be a guru, so even the hyper-fast internet has the possibility of being a guru. :)
      Thanks for reading and commenting.
      I look forward to 2013 and some peace posts.

  46. clarewells says:

    I don’t think .gifs are necessarily part of a downward trend in society. Sometimes there is a need for a quick, clear expression of one idea. One article I read likened them to political cartoons – basic, sketchy and rarely more than one or two different frames. (http://honestpuck.wordpress.com/2012/11/28/animated-gifs-junk-or-art/.)

    Besides, not everyone is able to come out with an 1000 word, well thought out opinion on a topic. The internet allows us so many more ways of expressing ourselves than in the pen to paper age, and we should embrace all of them.

    • Kozo says:

      Great point, Clare. I have read that article, and I do agree that quick, clear expressions are necessary. If we supplement these quick expressions with some longer works, then I don’t see a problem.
      So I am all for embracing the new ways to express ourselves as long as people continue to read other texts with more than 1000 words.
      Thank you for visiting and commenting.

  47. I tend to disagree…I think the use of gifs can be an easy way to expressing your imagination…I find the use of gifs an entertaining twist to a point of veiw…when you combine speech with visual expression it brings dimension to your meaning…the images you have on show has failed to do that,,,but that’s only my opinion… http://www.devilsfoe.com

    • Kozo says:

      I agree that there is a spectrum of GIFs out there, Humble Mind. I checked out your site, and you have some beautiful GIFs. If you don’t mind me asking, where would you direct me to start if I wanted to make a GIF like the ones you have?

  48. Siro79 says:

    I do think that text speak is affecting our language today, but, when put into context with the fact that the history of the human language is riddled with shortenings, mistranslations and adoption of other languages and many shortenings that were once considered lower class or in formal that are now common place. Text language is just the continuous evolution of a language at a rapid pace. That still dos not stop me from hating it, though. As for gifs, i am not concerned with this lack of patience, a gif is only 5 seconds long on average, and therefore cannot contain enough information. It merely serves as a visual aid or the solidification of a key joke reduced to a form e that does not need tireless re-telling. Take it from one of the so-called short term patience spanned teenager that cannot make it through a single song, let alone a book. (meaning to be sarcastic, but the lack of language tone undermines me).

    • Kozo says:

      Siro,
      Someone as articulate and insightful as the writer of this comment disproves my whole view of the next generation. You obviously know a lot about gifs and text language, but you are also well-read and open-minded. I hope you are not a minority. Take us to the future, my young friend.

  49. I’ve noticed this trend, and I’ve noticed how it had infected me. My use/abuse of the internet, and the myriad of programs and games of all sorts installed on my system, has given me a kind of ADD. I even catch myself doing it with longer posts on blogs. I will breeze past sections I suspect are elaborations of a point I either already know or agree with. I stop myself from hitting ‘like’ when i do that, though, and usually come back to re=read when I’m more patient.

    This effect has been a major factor in my desire to simplify and reduce my life and my toys. I’ve reduced myself to one computer from having every toy (electronic toys… like computing devices, I mean). I used to have the ability to sit and contemplate an idea for hours and hours. Now I struggle to do it for more than 20 mins, battling the urge to Wikipedia every possibility and idea that pops into my head.

    • Kozo says:

      Couldn’t agree more. I’ve started a practice of not checking my cell phone or email after one check in the morning until I get my “work” done. It amazes me how addicted we become to that buzz from our pocket. I am trying to be more present with everything I do. No more netflix while eating or talking on cell while driving, etc.

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