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GIF research from Tenor suggests we had a pretty bad 2017

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Image used with permission by copyright holder
When it comes to telling a story, we can depend on GIFs to do a good job. Alas, the story of 2017 isn’t a particularly fun one, at least not according to GIF research conducted by Tenor, the GIF keyboard that launched back in 2014. The platform now sees around 9 billion GIF searches every month, and sadly, it appears that many of these searches in 2017 weren’t for the happiest of topics.

While 2016 was widely panned as the worst year ever, what with numerous beloved celebrity deaths, polarizing political happenings, a slew of crimes, and bad weather, 2017 managed to top it all — at least according to GIFs and their senders. Tenor’s large-scale emotional trends for 2017 groups certain emotions into clusters. The company then compared these clusters across different years. For example, the sadness emotion included searches like “crying,” “waah,” “sob,” and “tears.” These clustered emotions were then taken as negative or positive, and data was compared between 2016 and 2017.

It’s not the most scientific of studies, and Tenor knows it.

“2017 was much more negative year overall, but interestingly, searches for “laughing” nearly doubled since 2016,” according to the company. “Even though we categorized ‘laughing’ as a positive emotion, laughing is not always used in a strictly ‘happy’ way, and the top GIFs of the year reflect this. The Shaq GIF could easily be used in a ‘laughing at the ridiculousness of everything’ manner. Because of this, 2017 might have been emotionally worse than this data indicates.”

Tenor found that negative emotions sent via GIF increased by 31 percent, while positive emotions decreased by 18 percent. In a rather interesting decision, Tenor only decided upon one neutral emotion — “drunk.” Apparently, folks searched for that particular emotion 39 percent more in 2017 than in 2016. Take that as you will.

The “Umm confused/”Guy blinking” GIF took top honors as Tenor’s Gif of the Year, because it is the most shared GIF of 2017 on Tenor’s platform. A crying baby was the second most popular GIF of the year, again, not a particularly ringing endorsement of 2017.

The good news, of course, is that 2017 is quickly drawing to a close, and we’re certainly hoping the GIFs sent throughout the rest of the year are a bit more reflective of the cheery holiday spirit. If not, here’s to a happier 2018 — please be better.

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