Actually, Vine Sucked
22 February 2018, 13:37
Hear me out
Ah Vine, that great golden marvel that we all dearly miss. What wonders we witnessed on Vine, what beauty. Truly it was the peak of human creation; a true celebration of the boundless power of the imagination. An app entirely without fault, or failure.
Also hundreds of videos of people humping the ground.
You don't remember the real Vine
Let's get this sorted, right off the bat - there was loads of great stuff on Vine. Some of the funniest, most creative, most joyous videos I have ever witnessed were born on Vine.
There's a reason why YouTube is filled with countless compilations of Vines, there's a reason why former users now talk about Vine with the kind of hushed reverence usually reserved for a lost Picasso - a lot of it was great.
The vast majority sucked though. It really sucked. Most of Vine - particularly the content made by its most popular creators - was pure garbage, and we need to reflect on that if we're ever going to prevent it from happening again.
The ugly truth
The inimtable genius Bo Burnham summed up Vine perfectly in his final post on the app:
Three months is an exaggeration, but Bo has a solid point here. When Vine began, it was an open playground where people could make cool stuff, but soon - and I mean very soon - it became completely dominated by a small group of users who abused systems like 'like for like' and 'revine for revine' in order to flood the 'popular page' with some of the most bland, repetitive and often curiously racist trash ever uploaded to the internet.
For every 'it's Wednesday my dudes' there were forty thousand 'when bae is mad at u LOL'.
Exhibit A: The Aforementioned Floor Humping
Let's see if you remember this: In the early days of Vines, for some unknown reason, it became extremely popular for Hot Boiz on Vine to upload videos of themselves... sigh... videos of themselves humping the floor?
It was called the 'Grind On Me' challenge (doesn't seem that challenging) and was utterly bad and also not good.
Just take a look at this video. What is this? What are we doing, people?
Exhibit B: The inexplicable racism
Non-white people, eh? Always doing funny things! They're crazy! - Not my sentiments, but the sentiments of like 98% of the 'comedy' Vines you'd see on the app. I swear to all the gods that if I ever have to watch another Vine where some white woman browns herself up to play an 'Uber driver' I'm gonna just throw my whole phone away.
Why exactly Vine ended up being so curiously racist is a topic I have already explored in a separate post, but ultimately I believe that it comes down to the following five-step formula:
1. To succeed on Vine you have to be funny or creative.
2. Most people aren't funny or creative.
3. But those people still want to be successful on Vine.
4. The easiest form of humour is humour based on stereotypes.
5. Everyone just makes lazy vaguely racist nonsense.
Exhibit C: The app itself sucked
Aside from the content itself, we need to remember that Vine itself, as an app, was pretty awful to use, both as a creator and a viewer. The app had almost no search functionality, meaning you would often get caught in a situation where you would see an awesome Vine, lose it and then never be able to find it again.
The popular page and like system was also totally open to abuse and almost immediately was abused. By the end, the same four of five people completely dominated the app, regardless of the fact they kept making the same four 'skits' over and over again.
So what's your point?
A sequel to Vine is on the way, and is known by the name V2 (more info on V2 right here). If we want V2 to live up to the magical (rose-tinted) memories we all have of Vine, we'll all have to put the effort in to keep it that way. Let's not encourage crappy content, or allow people to 'like for like' the app into oblivion. Let's take the time to encourage and promote people who are making genuinely creative stuff.