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Vine’s appeal has wilted but it gave us joy in its time

Craig Lindsey
Craig Lindsey newsobserver.com

Well, it’s time to lay Vine to rest.

The social-media app that took the world by storm nearly four years ago made the announcement late last month that it would be shutting down in the coming months. In a post on Medium.com, the company assured people that their Vines weren’t going to be deleted – at the moment. “We value you, your Vines, and are going to do this the right way,” the post said. “You’ll be able to access and download your Vines. We’ll be keeping the website online because we think it’s important to still be able to watch all the incredible Vines that have been made.”

For those in the know, this wasn’t much of a big surprise. Twitter, which bought Vine in 2012 before it launched, made the announcement beforehand that it was laying off 9 percent – roughly 350 people – of its workforce so it could find a way to keep on pushing. Also, it looked like the novelty of recording and viewing six-second videos had worn off.

Vine never really offered any new, exciting features that would make people come back for more. Instead, they went over to photo-sharing app Instagram, whose inclusion of video in 2013 gave followers the opportunity to make videos up to 60 seconds long. (Vine recently opened up the option of giving more video time to its users – but too little, too late.) Not to mention that Periscope and Facebook Live is also out there, giving people live-video streaming. Man, those six measly seconds of Vine started to look lame by comparison.

It must’ve hurt Vine that the same Viners who became famous – or, as it’s more commonly known, “Vine-famous” – through their app were flocking over to Instagram, YouTube, Facebook and other platforms where they could create content that was lengthier. (A lot of them came back to Vine recently, only to tell their followers they can still catch them on those other platforms.) But, during its peak time, Vine had a ready-steady crew of regulars. Many struggling actors and comedians in Los Angeles found a way to get their name out there by creating funny skits on the app. I got a kick out of seeing these people collaborate on videos and build a full-fledged community. The most popular of them was the rubbery-limbed, Afro-pick rocking King Bach, whose raucous Vines landed him on the cover of New York Magazine. We also shouldn’t forget that if it wasn’t for Vine, teenage girls wouldn’t be able to fawn over that adorable Shawn Mendes, the Canadian singer-songwriter whose career was launched when he was discovered doing covers on the app.

Another person who owes his success to Vine is Raleigh resident Joseph Headen, better known on Vine and the Interwebs as Headgraphix. A graphic designer and video director, Headen posted a lot of Vines in his time. (My fave had him superimposed on-stage during a Sam Smith performance, red cup in hand, dancing to “Stay With Me”) He even launched the popular “bruh” meme, where Headen’s audio utterance of the term “bruh” (which he uses the same way people use “Really?” or “Seriously?”) has been used on his Vines and various others. He even created the “Bruh Button” – yes, you press it and it says “bruh” – which can be obtained as a physical item or an app. “Vine has helped me benefit from the power of social media and accessibility to the masses,” Headen said in an email. “With the success of the ‘Bruh Button,’ I would have to give the respective credit to its platform. I was able to start a business from it developing apps, and merchandise referenced from social media trends. I’ve made a lot of new contacts that may have not been possible without Vine.”

You see, it wasn’t all silly memes and running-man challenges and smack-cams and twerking videos. Vine did a lot of good. But if you’re a platform that doesn’t keep up with the times (what up, MySpace!), expect people to look for something better. So, even though Vine should serve as a cautionary tale, let’s also remember it as an app that gave us so much joy – six seconds at a time.

Reach Craig Lindsey at talkingfurniture@aol.com

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