The Power of GIFS: Just Another Day at the Office


After years of obscurity, the GIF has made a mammoth-sized comeback to the Internet. These moving pictures evoke emotion and affect on those who view them combined with the power of pop culture. As our reading tells us, the rhetoric of GIFS “allows the user to provide a visual representation of how they are feeling, or how they act in a particular situation—expressions which are perhaps less well suited to text; GIFs are “a visual language unto themselves, an emotive vocabulary made out of culture””(Miltner and Highfield). One of the sites that has really taken advantage of this popular internet trend is Buzzfeed. They specialize in creating what are known as “listicles”, or articles centered around a list of certain points about a topic. Many of these contain GIFS for each point the Buzzfeed writer is trying to make. This one in particular was created for Netflix crazed college students, comparing their emotions during finals with scenes from the popular TV show The Office. This article shines when it comes to audience identification, since the emotions taken by the show’s characters accurately depict “our” emotions as students during the scenarios listed. For example, situations include “when you read the first question of a test and struggle”(Pentak) or “when you thought you aced your test” (Pentak). Each scenario is accompanied by a GIF featuring a character or more from the show.

“When it’s two weeks before the exam and your professor starts warning the class to start studying.”
“When you go into finals week thinking you’re prepared, but then reality hits.”

This not only gives the “same I feel this too” feeling but also gives a comical feeling, especially if you have seen the show. Some GIFS even have text inside of the comments that the actor(s) made in the scene to give more context and further add to the effect, especially to those who have seen the episodes. Even though I have only watched a few shows of The Office, I still find the GIFS funny and relatable due to the quirkiness of the characters. So you do not even need to be an Office superfan to have fun reading this listicle. The listicle in particular is so effective due to the amount of college students who are also fans of the show. Ironically, some students spend time procrastinating from their work watching the show, which makes this GIF hilarious.

” And you’re starting to get worried, so you go to office hours and your professor asks what you’ve been doing with your time.”

From this example, it is clear that the power of GIFs has opened up a new way for us to communicate and to be entertained online.



Highfield, Tim, and Kate M Miltner. “Never Gonna GIF You Up: Analyzing the Cultural Significance of the Animated GIF.” Social Media + Society, 2017. Sage Journals, SAGE Publications,

Pentak, Amanda. “26 Times ‘The Office’ Perfectly Understood Your Finals Week.” Buzzfeed, 16 Apr. 2016.

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