A GIF is doing the round on the internet that is really confusing people in terms of what it does to our perception. GIFs by nature, are silent, but millions of people on Twitter and other social networks are claiming that they can hear this one.
Incase you didn’t know, a GIF is a moving digital image that loops forever until you stop it. Like this one of a cat typing, for example:
The format was invented as long ago as 1987 by American computer scientist Steve Wichita, who received a 2013 Webby Lifetime Achievement Award for inventing it.
The GIF that’s breaking the internet at the moment is a little different from the above. It went viral in a tweet that was posted by Twitter user Lisa DeBruine.
Interestingly, Lisa is an academic at the Institute of Neuroscience and Psychology at the University of Glasgow. As someone whose profession is in that field, she was really interested to know why she and others felt as if they could hear the GIF.
Here it is:
Does anyone in visual perception know why you can hear this gif? pic.twitter.com/mcT22Lzfkp
— Lisa DeBruine 🏳️🌈 (@lisadebruine) December 2, 2017
Did you feel like you could hear a thud when the little pylon when it git the ground?
As you can see, the tweet has over 20,000 retweets and 40,000 likes. It really struck a chord with people! Many were saying that they could hear a slight thudding sound when the pylon hit the ground.
One person who suffers from tinnitus replied: “I hear a vibrating thudding sound, and it also cuts out my tinnitus during the camera shake.”
Others offered their theories on why the sensation was happening: “My gut says the camera shake is responsible for the entire effect. Anything that shook the camera like that, would probably make the ‘thud’ sound,” posted another Twitter user.
Lisa has been approached by several news organisations since posting the tweet, to discuss her theories on it. She even gave an interview to the BBC in England.
“I don’t know why some people hear it very clearly, others only feel it, and others perceive nothing at all”, she told the BBC. Some deaf and hard of hearing people have reported all three perceptions, as have people with aphantasia,” a lack of visual imagery.
It’s pretty incredible how our senses can be affected differently from person to person. It reminds us of the ‘gold and white dress’ debacle a few years ago, where some people said they saw a white dress with gold stripes, and others said they saw a black dress with blue stripes. It was a subject of intense debate for a while there!
Do you hear a thud when looking at this GIF? Or do you get any other kind of sensation? Let us know in the comments, and don’t forget to SHARE to see what your friends think!
One more thing – Aunty likes to give credit where credit is due – the pylon GIF was made by an animator who calls himself HappyToast (@IamHappyToast). He has been a little upset that his name was cropped out of the gif, and that people weren’t giving him credit for it, so if you’re on Twitter, go follow him and support his work!