We all remember Vine; Severance ground floor’s hall theme even pays tribute to the long-lost app. I know I can’t be the only one who has curled up in bed after a tough day and watched Vine compilations just to feel joy. Vine was a revolutionary platform unlike any before it. The premise was simple: six seconds to tell a story, showcase your chaotic side or do the most random thing possible. It took the idea of virality, which was pioneered by YouTube in the early 2000s, to a whole new level. For a brief moment, everyone gathered to “do it for the Vine.”
But all of that changed in a devastating spiral. The app was seeing fewer and fewer viewers; Vine stars began using it as a platform to advertise their alternative social media on YouTube and Instagram accounts rather than post content for Vine itself. While those apps provide incentives and support to influencers who draw in large numbers of viewers, Vine was founded on the idea of collaboration and offered very little assistance or recognition to its major contributors. By 2016, numbers were low enough for major Vine contributors, including King Bach and Amanda Cerny, to call for an emergency meeting with the Vine’s official representatives to try to keep it from failing. Their efforts were in vain.
Users’ comments turned less celebratory and instead more abusive. While competing platforms allowed their respective stars to attach links, offered a larger array of editing tools and a better recommendations page, Vine’s quick progress to popularity became stagnant. Multiple proposed deals from major Viners fell through, encouraging creators to turn to competing platforms like Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube. Thus marked the death of an app that everyone — particularly the most chaotic of us — enjoyed.
Suddenly arose a new app: Music.ly. We saw those stupid videos of 12-year-olds singing along to random pop songs — this, it seemed, was the next evolution of virality. Music.ly then transitioned into the newly branded app TikTok, which functions as a “destination for short-form mobile videos.” Here, videos are 15 seconds to one minute in length. It’s obvious to all of us that TikTok is the bratty tween cousin of Vine.
Despite this, TikTok has learned from Vine’s mistakes and used capitalism to its full potential. The app offers monetary incentives to its stars, and there are also a number of digital gifts and in-app purchases available. In fact, in the month of Oct. 2018, the revenue from these totaled 3.5 million dollars. The power of viewers’ loyalty to their favorite TikTok stars is not to be overlooked. Similar to what consumers have seen on Instagram, YouTube, and other similar platforms, major brands take on partnerships with TikTok stars because they know that viewers will ask “how high?” when a TikTok star tells them to jump.
Frankly, the content on TikTok as compared to Vine is disappointing. I think that comes from the fact that this app is not the first of its kind. We’ve already seen an app act as a “destination for short-form mobile videos”— and it was called Vine. TikTok stars are merely building off of the backs of Vine stars. No content here is being pioneered.
For those of us who were in high school during Vine’s prime, and then functioned as the app’s target demographic, look at Tiktok with a critical eye. GenZers, however, who are growing up in a world of TikTok look to the site with just as much awe as we once gazed at Vine. Their personalities are being shaped by TikTok just as ours were once shaped by Vine. The next generation will look to a new app to find their place in society. As much as we all hate to admit it, Vine is dead. This is TikTok’s world now, we’re just living in it.