You know what it is. Vine; the twitter of videos. When they were around, they were gold; six seconds of brilliance. Now they’re gone, but even still, two years since Vine was shutdown, we are still talking about them and using them; we quote Vines, we watch the infinite compilations on YouTube of everyone’s favourites, and it seems that even though the app may be gone, the love for Vines and the trend in and of itself lives on through our constant reference to and quotation of them.
Why was Vine so brilliant? In this day and age, the ‘too long, don’t read’ generation, we want things to be immediate, or at least quick; if we see that a video is any longer than 2 minutes we are instinctively turned off. It fascinates me, how we can spend so much of our time scrolling, but want to limit the time we spend concentrating on the one thing. Vine videos were 6 seconds long, and so the brilliance was not only in their comedy or effect, but the fact that they were short, and as such so sweet. As well as this short and sweet quality, Vine was the perfect platform for hilarious people to share their talents. It was a wholesome community of brilliantly and cleverly funny people where no one took themselves too seriously and everyone enjoyed a good laugh. It posed a challenge, an invitation to be as creative as possible, as you had to fit an intensely funny bit into a six second window.
We saw this in Zach King, who blew audiences away with his mindboggling magic tricks. How did he do it? Personalities like Amanda Cerny and Logan Paul fit comedy mini-movies and relatable moments into their six second squares. Jérôme Jarre took his comedy bits to the next level by not letting those that feature in them, in on them. If you know Jérôme, you’ll know what I mean by that. If you don’t, check him out. It’s worth it. MelvinGregg, Reggie COUX, and DeStorm Power are just a few more of the many stars of Vine, and worth noting too is Josh Peck, start of Drake & Josh, who showcased his solo comedic brilliance on Vine to the delight of those of us who watched Drake & Josh religiously on Nickelodeon every evening during our supper of fish-fingers and oven chips, or a bowl of cereal (shreddies or cheerios) at snack time. You can still watch all of the vines ever recorded and posted, as an archive website was set up after the shutdown of the app in January 2017. Vine.co is the archived website, and all you need to do is put the name of the person whose vines you wish to watch after that like so; vine.co/joshpeck.
Vine created a community, a culturally relevant community, of culturally relevant things; things we as millennial consumers can relate to and enjoy in the context of our fast-paced world of immediate and vast information at our fingertips; they thrive, and we drive them. In this way, Vine must be an exception to this ‘popularity of culturally relevant things’ concept, because it was undoubtedly popular, but it didn’t survive.
So, whatever happened to Vine? Founded in June 2012, it was bought by Twitter in 2012 for, reportedly, $30 million, and officially launched as a free app in the Apple store in January 2013. It became available for Android users shortly after, and within a matter of months quickly grew to be the most popular short video sharing platform in the world. One must wonder how something that was doing so well shut down after such a short-lived time in the spotlight? There are a few reasons. Firstly, Twitter had no money. That is a slight exaggeration, of course Twitter had and has money, but at the time they were struggling to turn over a significant profit, which means, as it does for most companies during times if financial difficulty, they had to make cutbacks. Twitter had to look at where they weren’t making enough money, and unfortunately Vine was cut.
Another contributing factor to the downfall of Vine was competing companies, like Instagram, who were making it possible for people to record and share short videos on their apps too. Vine stars were probably the biggest part of Vine’s success, but of course when you get big in one place, you move on to conquering or breaking it in the next. Although many remained loyal, the Vine stars that left Vine really didn’t help the situation. A third element to the downfall was that there was no room for advertisements, or at least advertisers cared little for advertising on Vine. Perhaps because the audience predominantly consisted of young teenagers, or perhaps there was no room on the app itself – where could you put the ads? Regardless of the reason for a lack of advertising sponsors, the result was the same as that foundational reason for Vine closing down: Vine wasn’t making enough money for Twitter.
Vine was more than a Twitter for videos. After all, it wasn’t created by Twitter, it was bought by Twitter just before its release. Vine was one of the few apps that stayed true to its original form and intent, with only ever so slight updates and changes. It remained a sharing platform for six second videos, no fancy add-ons. You know the like; Snapchat changing its layout and getting rid of the ability to view other people’s top-friends caused absolute uproar. Vine was never criticised for such things, and even its shutdown was on outward force, for Vine was adopted and had no control over the actions and decisions of its guardian. Not that Twitter is to blame. Simply put, shit happens and things don’t work out in the real world of capital sometimes. I simply mean to point to the organic and unwavering authenticity and community-driven nature of Vine in and of itself. Ironic, how Vine couldn’t do it for the Vine, in the end.
Do it for the Vine, lives on, however. We still love it, and maybe its short life was a good thing; the silver lining being that it can’t be changed. Vine had no time to develop in to something more than what it so simply was. There were no annoying updates or layout changes, no additional functions that took away from the simple six minute snippet video. We keep Vine and its pure simplicity alive with our subtle references to its best moments, our laughs as we mimic the comedy and voices of its greatest stars, and with our occasional binge watching of the compilations in ode to the best of the best of Vine that remain alive and popular to this day.
This article was originally published in the UCC Express in September 2018 in the Features section, authored by Ciara Dinneen.