Communication, at its root, is inexact.

Human language is a set of noises that we have long agreed upon to connote specific meanings. We are raised to express ourselves through this medium because it’s the best we have.

But ideas and emotions are often too complex to put into language alone. Luckily for us, humankind’s means of communication have rapidly expanded.

The GIF, a format that supports images both static and dynamic, is the latest chapter in our communication evolution, and all we can do is embrace it.

Perhaps language purists would disagree, maintaining the superiority of language over all other forms of expression. Between speech and text, this seems hard to argue with. However, GIFs utilized through technology can draw emotions in a manner more concise than language.

The advantages of the GIF start with its nature as a visual medium. The message is not spelled out — it is shown. The primary education system has taught us all to show and not tell, and GIFs take this a step further.

Silent Messages, a book written by psychology professor Albert Mehrabian, concludes that only seven percent of human communication is spoken through words. He further concluded that 55 percent of human communication was shown through feelings and attitudes in a facial expression. The GIF capitalizes on this phenomenon.

Showing people and their body language in a GIF allows the viewer to further understand the message being expressed. While text could list specific words such as “disappointed” and “thwarted,” a GIF of Arrested Development‘s George Michael Bluth slouching and walking away encapsulates what those words mean.

(You’re welcome.)

References to pop culture, such as the aforementioned, only further the potential range of emotions available with any given GIF. Supposing that the recipient of the GIF understands the context of the reference, this gives the communication a boosted significance built on the knowledge of a TV show, cartoon or movie.

Whether you respect it or not, the GIF is here to stay. Similar to the emoji or emoticon, this form of communication and expression has embedded itself in our technology. Anyone who communicates through technology has two choices: Adopt the trend and harness it to your advantage or let the movement pass you.