All of which to say: to make a GIF human, to pull this fundamental Internet thing outside of its box is an ingenious piece of stagecraft. For every GIF meme, there is a person in there somewhere. Susan Sontag identified photography with death. She put it like this in On Photography:
All photographs are memento mori. To take a photograph is to participate in another person’s (or thing’s) mortality, vulnerability, mutability. Precisely by slicing out this moment and freezing it, all photographs testify to time’s relentless melt.
The memento mori says, “Remember you must die.” The animated GIF says, “Remember you will live on in media.” That is to say, if photography is a reaper, the animated GIF is its zombie cousin.
Ladies and gentlemen, Alexis Madrigal.