Now that unlimited texting plans are becoming a popular choice for families, young people are embracing the once cost prohibitive Multimedia Messaging Service, all anew. Mixing, splicing and sharing their favorite media snippets via animated GIFs, young people are creating a new form of visual social currency.
Multimedia messaging or MMS, has been available on handsets for some years now. Unlike text messaging however, media messaging never really caught on with young mobile users. The initial higher costs of multimedia messaging discouraged many young people from truly adapting MMS into their daily social exchanges, and was used only sparingly. This is changing however, as many families are now incorporating unlimited texting packages into their mobile plans, and is allowing multimedia messages to be reborn. Enjoying a renaissance of sorts, MMS is rising in popularity due to a new form of social currency– GIF trading.
The GIF image format has quite a kitschy history with its long held reputation as the cheap plastic toy of the internet. In the early days of web design, GIF animations were held in high esteem for their small file size and html compliance. As technology quickly advanced and flash and java became standard in web design, GIF animations became synonymous with cheesy amateurish design. Their exile to the darkest fringes of the free-hosted net didn’t last long however, as online communities like 4Chan discovered the absurd meme potential of such things like dancing bananas.
Animated GIFs are not hard to make, and anyone with a simple image editor can make their own GIFs in a few minutes. While pixelated sprite animations are still popular among the otaku and gamer set, low-resolution film clips featured on sites like SenorGif, are quickly becoming the mainstream GIF to give. Users simply rip a few images from their favorite film, TV show or video clip, add a few words of text and upload their creations into a GIF maker like Make A Gif– which allows the images to be played in a successive loop. The small size of GIF files can then be easily loaded into a MMS and sent to all their friends to be enjoyed.
What Youth Think:
“I have a bunch of funny and weird GIFS on my phone. I find a lot of great ones on Tumblr, especially really funny Harry Potter Gifs. I just save them to a file and send them when I think my buds need a laugh”- Alli 17, NY
The affordability of unlimited texting and the availability of online GIF making communities, has given young people a new way to remix and share their favorite bits of pop culture. Text messaging will undoubtedly continue to be the preferred choice of communication for young people for some time, but the addition of affordable media messaging and the availability of novelty content is certainly going to leave its mark on the real time conversations of tomorrow.
Trend submitted by Andrea Graham