Vine is dead, I know. But the recent onslaught of TikTok ads on the internet has left me feeling nostalgic for the once beloved video app. So in the spirit of love, Vine, and my opinions, “welcome back to… me, screaming.”
In search of the right herbal tea, or bubble bath, or Netflix series, I have discovered that nothing eases my anxiety better than a good Vine compilation. A fan of classics, I still snort every time Jared, 19, tells me he can’t read.
The now-departed app was created to share small snippets of daily life in video form. But it was the six-second time limit that pushed the boundaries of social media and comedy. That restrictive constraint led content creators to get their point — most often a joke — across faster. Vine users only had six seconds to make themselves memorable, with various levels of fame available for the successful ones.
The idea of “Vine Stars” may sound ominous, but the reality is scarier than you might imagine. In 2015, Business Insider named Justin Bieber one of the 30 most popular Vine stars; but a year later, Bieber didn’t even make the list. Jake and Logan Paul, however, made it in both 2015 and 2016, with Logan’s individual following reaching over 9 million. As terrifying as that is, the siblings didn’t come close to the 15.8 million followers of Andrew B. Bachelor, known as KingBach, the No. 1 most followed Vine star.
So with that many users, why did Vine die?
Twitter bought Vine early on; the 6-second time limit complemented Twitter’s 140-character message format. Over time, Vine struggled in a growing market — as Snapchat and Instagram videos emerged, Vine couldn’t compete with updates and advertising dollars, according to The Verge.
Despite eventually being shut down, Vine’s impact on comedy and meme culture has given almost everyone an answer to the question, “What’s your favorite Vine?”
“I ain’t get no sleep ‘cause of y’all,” said Leslie Whiting, a 20-year-old Longwood University student. Tanisha Thomas’ unforgettable outburst on Oxygen’s Bad Girls Club was popular source material for Vine, with multiple remixes and overlays added to the footage.
For Aysha Malik, a 26-year-old events supervisor from Arlington, it gets romantic with “I love you bitch.”
The lure of Vine crossed generational lines. It’s a bonding point for millennials and Generation Z. But Generation X wasn’t left out of the fun either. Over the holidays, when I said, “It’s cris-men,” to my cousin, my 52-year-old aunt chimed in, “Merry Chrysler!”
Youtube is stocked with beloved vines. A good compilation may send you delightedly down a rabbit hole. Compilations are easy to find and vary in style. There’s dozens of “Best of” videos, but you can also find “the Zodiac signs as Vines” or the emerging and multiplying “Umbrella Academy characters as Vines.”
Of course, Youtube has it’s nuisances. With modern targeted-advertising, it’s highly likely that fans of Vine are going to find themselves facing the demon that is TikTok ads. The internet is overwhelmed with these videos — Youtube, Facebook, Twitter, and even news sites are interrupted with short video advertisements from the app. It seems like if ad space can be bought, TikTok has found it.
At first glance, TikTok’s set-up is pretty similar: users share short clipped videos. It might seem like a natural successor for Vine fans. Unfortunately, in action — and yes, I did download it — TikTok feels embarrassing.
Videos of teenagers lip-syncing in cosplay are paired with viral challenge videos. The style of video verges on click-bait. Users consistently rely on musical overlays and aesthetically pleasing images. The honesty and fast-thinking humor that made Vine so popular is largely missing from TikTok.
Last October, the Atlantic boldly claimed, “TikTok is Cringey and That’s Fine,” but I have to disagree. Maybe it’s a generation gap, or maybe it’s the aggressive marketing that I find tiresome. But for the most part, it feels like TikTok didn’t get the message that we want to laugh with the content creator.
After all, Vine wasn’t without it’s fair share of cringe, but more often we were laughing with Riff Raff singing Sublime (or Riff Raff being Riff Raff), than we were left staring wide-eyed waiting to be involved. That’s the turn-off: Vine was about an interaction with the audience — even if only to inspire laughter. TikTok videos seem like they’re solely about the content creator.
That being said, numbers don’t lie. TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, is valued at $75 billion, according to the Business of Apps. In October, it was the number one downloaded app from the Google Play Store, with over 9 million downloads in the United States. For iPhone users, October downloads reached 6 million.
With rising use, TikTok isn’t without it’s fair share of controversy. Just this year, the company was fined $5.7 million for illegally storing personal information from children under 13, according to CNN Business. The fine was directly linked to TikTok’s merger with Musical.ly, another short video app that was based on lip-syncing and required users to submit first and last names, among other things.
Last Summer, Indonesia announced they were banning TikTok. Authorities called the app, which relies on user-created content, “pornographic” and “inappropriate.” Rumors of a similar ban in Pakistan have been circulating through the beginning of 2019.
Despite the concerns, the United States accounts for 80 million TikTok app downloads, about half of which are still active accounts.
TikTok has a high number of users, a high number of downloads, and a parent company with obvious financial success. What it doesn’t have is the audience connection and honesty that made Vine so legendary.
On Youtube, the compilation videos tell the stories of both apps: Vine searches result in titles like “Vines I quote every day,” or channels like Cool Vines, that does monthly “TBT Vine Compilations” for over a million subscribers. When you search TikTok, top results include the “Ultimate TikTok Cringe” compilation and “10 minutes of TikTok Cringe.”
The truth is the apps aren’t exactly comparable. The differences between them, though they may seem small (15-second clips for TikTok compared to six seconds for Vine, TikTok’s stronger focus on lip-syncing), have led to completely different styles of content: one that gives me a pleasant feeling of amused nostalgia, and one whose ads I wish would stop showing up in my feed.
Note: Vines quoted and linked here come from Youtube and aren’t originally sourced, because Vine is dead. Content appreciation to: Rockwell Rockamole, Josh Kennedy, Christine Sydelko, Riff Raff, and the glorious people who saved these videos from extinction.
Also, opinion pieces reflect the views of individual contributors and do not constitute RVA Mag editorial policy.