Reflections & Thoughts

What can GIFs tell about yourself?

“The Graphics Interchange Format (GIF; /ɡɪf/ GHIF or /dʒɪf/ JIF , see pronunciation) is a bitmap image format that was developed by a team at the online services provider CompuServe led by American computer scientist Steve Wilhite and released on 15 June 1987.

Developed by: CompuServe

Initial release: 15 June 1987; 35 years ago”

Source: Wikipedia 

I love using GIFs, they are fun to use. I have used them since the beginning of their existence in this beautiful virtual world. They allow me to express my feelings in a humorous way. I find GIFs so fascinating that if I have time I  can spend 3 minutes or more looking for the perfect one to send to my family and friends, until I find the one GIF that allows me to show the emotion I may be feeling at that moment.  

GIFs are so amusing that any time I see them on my phone screen I can’t avoid smiling and lifting my mood – for at least one minute – they are just lovely. Recently I was as usual, sending messages and it occurred to me: time to send a witty GIF. I clicked in the GIF option on my phone and the GIF recommendations were quite intriguing and a bit frightening. It suddenly dawned on me – what am I supposed to be sending?

I stopped, sending the perfect GIF could wait. Since that day  I haven’t sent any GIFs and am not planning to do so  any time soon.This is why:

As you can see in the image, I saw the Pop culture popping up on my screen, suggesting (telling) what type of GIF I should use. Out of all the pictures you see – if you ever watch TV – you will recognize they all belong to the American entertainment industry, they created the concept and spread it around the world.  And it’s so  popular that the charismatic Barack Obama and the controversial Hilary Clinton  are there too.

GIFs are a perfect representation of the  Americans – their television programs and kitsch culture gather: a stupid man: Homer Simpson; The happy and optimistic girl in Friends serie: Rachel; Money: happiness; The president and a news men: power and influence. All in one place: GIF-land. Think about it, this could be a subtle way of cultural indoctrination. 

A couple weeks later I tried again, I looked for more  GIF suggestions whenever sending an SMS on my phone, even though I didn’t click on any of them, I curiously scrolled up and down to see all suggestions I could encounter. Here is what I discovered: Apple already knows what words I usually look at whenever I’m looking for a GIF – in other words – they can track my thought pattern. They even state that:

Personally I think it’s a bit creepy, even on my iPad I have categories/themes recommended according to my previous searches. These words are a strong indicator of my personality. I wonder what Apple does with this information.

In the next few weeks I kept looking for more GIF recommendations. Once more, I found the American pop culture ruling my world – probably so does yours –.  Since then I don’t use GIFs… well maybe not as often. They can definitely launch trends, dictate what you should be familiarized with and even influence your core values; what do you value the most? Friends and family or money? Think about it. 

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