Internet Cultured: Vine’s community is alive and well despite the platform’s death

Joscelyn Stocks | Daily Trojan

Jan. 17, 2017 will forever be remembered as the day Vine was put to rest.

But since then, Vine’s post-death popularity has increased beyond when the platform was alive, solidifying Vine as a comedic force that has shaped internet culture.

Known for its six-second nonsensical videos, Vine was a looping video sharing app that launched in 2013. At its most basic function, the app allowed creators to film, edit and publish videos.

Additionally, users could “revine” videos posted by accounts they followed — essentially a combination of Instagram and Twitter with a focus on short-form video.

Vine quickly became wildly popular between 2013 and 2015, with some predicting that longer-form content found on YouTube would die out and be replaced by Vine. This trend, however, tapered off as Vine creators increasingly switched to YouTube and fewer users engaged on the platform.

Though Twitter acquired Vine in 2012 for $30 million, it announced only four years later that it would discontinue the app but still keep the Vine camera available.

Creators and users alike mourned on Twitter about the death of their beloved app, with many hoping that the community outcry would keep Vine alive.  Twitter was subsequently filled with users re-sharing Vines and forming Twitter threads of old Vines.

On YouTube, uploaded Vine compilations, which are usually upward of 10 minutes in length, easily gained hundreds of thousands or millions of views. Even after the app officially shut down, tweets about its videos  and compilations still garnered more popularity.

As Vine reaches its two-year death anniversary, its viral videos remain a part of cultural conversations.

The archived platform remains as relevant as ever.

Truth be told, I barely remember using Vine during its prime. I was just a freshman in high school, and I only checked the app as a last-resort entertainment option (I did, however, spend a hefty amount of time on YouTube).

I only really invested time into it as a college freshman, when I would stay up late at night cry-laughing to Vine compilations with my roommates.

The “USC Memes for Spoiled Pre-Teens” Facebook group also makes use of anachronistic vines, with my personal favorite complication being “USC frats as Vines.” Heck, even the nametags on the doors of my residential hall are themed with Vine references.

Today, almost two years after its passing, I frequently engage in Vine culture, which is bizarre considering that the app no longer provides fresh content.

But, if Vine is dead, why does it still play such a prominent role in young people’s lives?

While routinely perusing YouTube, I came across the video “How Vine Shaped a Generation” by Tiffany Ferguson, one of my favorite influencers.

A well established content creator who’s been around since 2012 and gone viral, Ferguson has actively partaken in the rise and fall of many internet trends, including Vine. In this video, which is a part of her “Internet Analysis” series, Ferguson deconstructs Vine’s lasting influence on the internet generation nearly two years after the video app’s shutdown.

“The thing about a good Vine is usually that it worked indescribably well,” Ferguson said. “You could never really explain why it’s funny, exactly what the joke is, and that’s kind of what makes Vine feel like a breeding ground for inside jokes for this generation.”

She goes on to discuss how certain common elements found in Vines — quick-witted punchlines, sudden loud noises, contorted facial expressions, self-deprecating humor — have spread to longer-form content. Ferguson describes this style of content as “Over-the-top humor, a little bit of depression [and] a side of silliness.”

Especially as so many ex-Viners like David Dobrik, Liza Koshy, Cody Ko and the Paul brothers (dare I mention them?) have gained massive popularity on YouTube, their successful bit-style videos have given rise to new-age creators like Emma Chamberlain, who has gained popularity by adopting similar content formats.

Viners were once the butt of the joke, as Ferguson put it, but the platform’s wide-reaching prominence has allowed it to climb to the top posthumously.

Beyond the way it has reshaped content structures on YouTube and Twitter, Vine remains popular because of its nostalgic appeal.

Vine is a cheerful past that was shared by young people, and the simplicity of the app makes reveling in its legacy all the easier.

Further, the app was released at a pivotal moment in the digital age, when social media was transitioning from misunderstood to legitimate, solidifying Vine as a defining component of internet culture as we know it today.

Vine may be dead, but it lives on with users who enjoy the ridiculous six-second videos and the community that surrounded them. Whether we’ll still be quoting Vines 20 years down the road is hard to say, but Vine has definitely earned its place in digital history — that’s for sure.

Rowan Born is a sophomore majoring in journalism and  law, history and culture. She is also the social media editor of the Daily Trojan. Her column, “Internet Cultured,” runs every other Tuesday.