So, a bunch of content writers today are publishing a lot of articles using GIFs.
As someone who values literacy and the hard work many put into content publishing or journalism, it's pretty fuckin' disgusting. To my limited knowledge, this trend began with Cracked (back before they sold out), which would publish articles that would break text up using stock images. The jokes were always crafted around the context of the article, and typically the pictures themselves wouldn't be funny outside of their place in the article. At the time, it was
Along came BuzzFeed, which took this format and put it through the filter of a mentally challenged person's mind. Flashy GIFs and immediate pop culture references. No longer were the jokes made by the writer, but the article was written around the jokes. I use emoticons and LOLs daily. When it comes to linguistics, I'm a descriptivist, but this is the first time I've ever felt that literacy was truly being compromised. Not only do the GIFs supersede the role of words in article writing, but it is also a transition in the crafting of jokes from storytelling to making references. It's that step from "The Simpsons" to "Family Guy," from "Young Frankenstein" to "Epic Movie."
The tone is often condescending, entitled tone. "Why the fuck should I have to write real content? Can't you see how funny I am? Look at all these pictures I found on the Internet!" Just because you can quote funny movies doesn't mean you're a comedian. In fact, there's a word for that kind of practice. It's called plaigarism. You might cite where you got the image from (Typically, Tumblr doesn't do "Family Guy"'s animation, so even that's bullshit, really), but you're keeping the same punchline. There's no personal contribution to the reference aside from "Look at how funny this is." I like "Elf" but your article still sucks.
What's more disgusting is that this site functions as a platform for college-age writers to get their voices out and get experience writing with an editor and readership. I think that's pretty cool (duh). That's a lot of the reason I wanted to write for the site. Kids are choosing to write in this format because that's what they're subjected to. Maybe it's the media's fault for raising us on the fast food diet of Huffington Post journalism and BuzzFeed content, but it's our responsibility to do better.
Listen, I know my articles aren't great. I don't like ranking things numerically, but my best article is probably a 7/10 on here (which was also my first). I'm not knocking people who enjoy GIFs, either. I've got hundreds saved on my computer; I love them. There's just a time and place for them and I don't feel that content publishing should be structured around them. We all owe it to the craft of writing to do better, myself included. Sometimes, I just feel like I'm trying harder than others and God knows I don't put enough effort into it. Actually, you know what? These hacks are onto something. You can get more popular by stealing other people's content with minimum effort? Shit, I need to get on that...
Here's an excerpt from next week's Odyssey article I'm working on...
"Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."