It’s October 27th, 2016, and Vine is being given its last rites. Twitter made the announcement today that it would be shutting down the video platform’s mobile app in the coming months, although its website will remain online. The news triggered an impromptu memorial service on Twitter, with users sharing dozens of their favorite Vines. Suddenly, Twitter felt a lot more fun than usual. In its brief lifetime, Vine managed to become a place for joy on the internet while everything around it seemed to dissolve into increasingly toxic sludge.
When Twitter gave us continued reassurance that everyone else also definitely Wants 2 Die, Vine gave us a baby seal playing Carly Rae Jepsen on an inflatable saxophone. When Facebook gave us conspiracy theory listicles from angry relatives, Vine gave us an army of sighing ducks. When Instagram gave us stylized photos of lives far more appealing than our own, Vine gave us parkour in the Anytown, USA Krispy Kreme.
Vine gave us parkour in the Anytown, USA Krispy Kreme
Memes that originated from Vine also skewed toward joyful absurdity while memes from other platforms often hinged on being merely absurd, cynical, or snarky. This is at least partly because Vine feels sincere at a time when sincerity on the internet is usually regarded with the kind of disgust reserved for a stranger’s oozing toe bunion. On Twitter, explaining the appeal of something like dat boi (or even fumbling for a definition of what frog boy means) devalues its own special wonkery. Vines are rarely opaque, or even that cool. Vine thinks your dog is very cute, yes it does, and no points will be deducted for a choreographed dance that you definitely practiced dozens of times, nor for an obviously staged prank. Even when a popular Vine reached the death-round of daytime talk shows, like Peaches Monroee’s classic "eyebrows on fleek" Vine, its pleasure was only tarnished after it exited the Vine universe and became a commercial-friendly catchphrase; the source material is still great.
Maybe the appeal of the Vine comes from its necessarily punctuated run time; Each Vine is no more than six (or 6.5) seconds long, which isn’t really enough time to make a compelling argument for why life is a dark abyss and this election is a sign of the apocalypse. Sometimes the perfect Vine is just stolen footage, like this interaction from an episode of Wheel of Fortune, that takes on new meaning in the short, looping structure. On television, our buddy Brandon’s reaction might be a little uncomfortable; on Vine, it’s a delightfully awkward moment that never ends.
Meanwhile, Twitter is flailing in its own attempts to deal with abuse and harassment, and yet it Grim Reaper’d the nicest thing it owned. Vine is a good reminder that it doesn’t take a celebrity’s dour face or a dry middle-aged man in a sweater to make a popular meme. We are left cling to @dril’s keyboard-banging lifehacks for idiots and the untimely death of a caged gorilla. Vine may have been too genuine for its own good, but as long as Twitter keeps the old videos online, we can look back and remember the internet’s former happy place.