You’re still texting funny pictures in conversations with your buddies? What are you, 90? Texting photos is baseball to texting GIF’s football. Get on board.

Let’s say you and your guy friend are having a heated text argument about Ted 2 because, presumably, you’re drunk. You think it is terrible and he is ready to make it canon. The argument reaches a fever pitch, and you are at a loss for words. Do you send a picture of Drake double birding? Or do you throw one of these his way?

Tell me this doesn’t get your point across better than some stationary image. The power of the animated GIF in this scenario not only ends said argument, it ensures you are in the win column as to who is the funnier of you or your bro. But there is an art to GIF texting. You can’t just fly into this new trend all willy-nilly, you must prepare yourself by following these steps.

1. Build your Cache

Having a collection of GIFs at the ready is half the battle. You don’t want to be frantically searching google images to find the right emotional animation to burn your buddy or end the debate. You need to build your cache with plenty of argument “enders” like the one above, so they’re ready to fly. Another effective GIF to have is something like, maybe, this one…

But all conversations between you and your friends don’t involve debate or negativity. Let’s say you’re texting during a football game and your squad gets into the end zone. You need joy, elation, something more than a simple “Hell yeah!” You need something like this….

The point here is that you need to build your collection to cut across all emotions and all levels of those emotions. Create a library, have them ready to roll.

2. Know Your Audience.

GIF texting with your friends should always be acceptable. If it isn’t, get some new friends. But shooting out GIFs doesn’t belong in conversations with your mom. “Hey, mom, I got a new job today!”

Odds are, your mom doesn’t know who Stephen Colbert is, has never seen Borat, and probably hasn’t seen any of the movies or shows you tap into to supply GIFs. Maybe you can find a funny NCIS GIF to use with mom, but even then I say pass on it. Seeing an animated clip in her text timeline will only bewilder your poor mother and the conversations will get lose in the weeds. It will be up to you, then, to explain the whole endeavor and she will probably respond with an “oh.” Not funny.

As for your girlfriend or wife, texting GIFs to them is on a case-by-case basis. Maybe your girl is right there with you on these GIFs, but maybe not. I say know your girl, know what makes her laugh, because nine times out of ten it isn’t the same things that crack up you and your buddies.

3. Evolve

The thing with these GIFs, they go stale quickly. A Borat dancing GIF can be used only sparingly, because if it pops up every time something calls for a celebration it loses its humor quickly. One must continuously evolve their GIF-texting game, always keeping a handful of similar GIFs in their cache and disposing of those overused animations. Follow these rules, and you will own your texting threads.

4. Get Weird

GIFs don’t have to make sense. Throw the occasional curveball.

Godspeed you beautiful bastards.