What the Internet Loses When Vine Shuts Down

What the Internet Loses When Vine Shuts Down
  • Vine was launched to let people make GIFs with sound
  • The app has lost its social cachet among teenagers
  • Facebook isn't the meme incubator that Vine was

Nothing good or simple ever survives the internet, which is presumably why Twitter is shuttering its six-second video app, Vine. Launched with one pure, uncomplicated purpose - essentially, to let people make GIFs with sound - Vine enjoyed a brief heyday as the favored platform for a diverse, eclectic group of closet meme-makers before the cold realities of Silicon Valley conspired to drag the app down.

Among the internet phenomena Vine gave us: "on fleek,""Damn Daniel,""what are thoooose?!", "why the f-- you lyin" and duck army. (To say nothing of Cameron Dallas, Andrew Bachelor, Zach King, Lele Pons and a bevy of other Vine-born personalities.)

But Vine has been struggling for a while now, as we reported way back in July: Most of its top stars have actually abandoned the app within the past year, lured by larger audiences, and better monetisation options, on platforms such as Facebook and YouTube. The app has lost its social cachet among teenagers, who aren't joining up at the rates they were before. And many of Vine's top executives departed, en masse, at the beginning of the summer.

"The allure of it has dropped off completely," one industry expert, Daniel Saynt, told The Washington Post at the time.

Still, Facebook isn't the meme incubator that Vine was - and neither, arguably, are Snapchat, YouTube or Instagram. There was something about the time constraint of Vine that made it ideal for amateur producers and armchair comedians. Because there was no time, there was no expectation of production value - viewers just wanted hijinks and antics.

As Tad Friend put it in the New Yorker in 2014, "The six-second limit didn't leave time to do much more than establish a scenario and then undercut it." And because Vine was hooked into Twitter, those little clips were well-primed for dissemination on the wider web.

Today's hip platforms aren't quite like that, of course - Snapchat wants to keep its content on Snapchat; Facebook wants to keep you scrolling for days. In the age of livestreams and YouTube Spaces, six-second video almost seems quaint. (This may explain why, in late June, Vine increased it to 140 seconds.)

But without small, non-professionalized places such as Vine, is there anywhere in which your average 16-year-old class clown can banana-peel his way to viral fame? The answer may turn out to be well, no - not really.

© 2016 The Washington Post


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Further reading: Twitter, Vine, Apps, Social
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