Never mind if you’re unsure whether it’s pronounced “giff” or “jiff,” or if you’ve never pushed one into a social media feed and never plan to.
The Graphics Interchange Format, or GIF, has long been a standard cultural currency, a premade animation for conveying how users want others to know they feel, or how good they are at finding clever clips. (Its cousin, the pop-culture-savvy meme, isn’t necessarily animated.)
Now we’ve arrived at year’s end, when the best-ofs and other compilations roll out to help define the zeitgeist of the past dozen months.
There is, of course, a list of most-viewed GIFs.
Consider what you know about the internet. How snark has become its lingua franca. How it can be an accelerant of hateful side-taking in a time of dug-in sides. You might think GIF traffic would reflect that mood.
It doesn’t, according to Giphy, which calls itself the “first and largest” GIF search engine.
“Amid all of the craziness this year, love and thoughtfulness dominated the Top 25 Most-Viewed GIFs of 2020,” the site found in its audit. No. 1, with more than 1 billion views: a tail-wagging cartoon dog expressing gratitude for “all the selfless humans” leading the pandemic fight. After that? A grateful-hands GIF, an “I love you,” and a virtual hug.
You have to get to No. 8, below Elmo’s happy dance, to find a chippy one – a dumpster fire. Below that sits a raised fist with a mask. Its message: “We will get through this.”