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The brilliance of Vine was that it did for video what Twitter did for written content. Just as Twitter proved that 140 characters was enough to get across your message to an online audience, Vine proved that all you needed was 6 seconds of video, infinitely looping, to tell your story. So it’s no wonder that Twitter’s recent announcement that it was shutting down Vine led to all sorts of “why Vine mattered” commentary on the Internet.
Indeed, Vine mattered. And it mattered even at its most nonsensical moments – the infinite loops of funny actions, played over and over again. Vine gave us a new generation of pop culture stars, a new approach to creating raw, authentic video, and a new way to distribute viral content on the web.
The one thing that Vine didn’t give us, though, was a way to monetize all that content. There was no real revenue stream coming out of Vine, and so Twitter had to shut it down, even after paying a reported $30 million for it back in 2012.
What comes after Vine?
The obvious answer, of course, is that we’ve already seen what comes after Vine: Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook Live. That’s the current future of video on the Internet right now. Snapchat took the 6-second Vine and turned it into the 10-second snap. Instagram took the looping Vine and turned it into a looping Story. And Facebook Live took the video experience and made it “live” and streaming.
In many ways, you can think of Vine as belonging to a period of “peak meme” on the Internet. From 2012-2015, the dominant form of content creation on the Web was the viral meme. Vine fit perfectly into that ethos and mindset. No wonder Twitter bought the company. Pairing funny tweets with a funny six-second video clip was a no-brainer.
But we’ve seen the writing on the wall for Twitter – nobody wants to buy the company any more at any price, and nobody wants to use the social platform anymore. Twitter is literally dying, and with it, the whole culture around funny tweets, funny hashtags, and tweetstorms. It’s not that Twitter failed, it’s that it got caught in a new era of content consumption where the pithy tweet and the raw six-second video no longer has as much value.
Pondering a future without memes
The antidote to the meme is content that’s not meant for mass consumption, that’s meant to be shared only with the people that matter. You can think of Snapchat in this regard – people create content for their friends, and some of that content disappears after you watch it, so you can’t share it. Yes, people may use Facebook Live to become Internet-famous, but the real goal is to share meaningful moments in your life with people who matter. This is the exact opposite of Vine, which still boasts that it’s the place “where videos and personalities get big, really fast.”
From this perspective, the end of Vine is the end of an era. Sure, there will always be a market for content that can go viral, but “getting big fast” will no longer be the sole aim of creating content. You can think of the Internet meme era as a massive, global binge on the junk food of the Internet. Now it’s time to clean things up, go on a massive juicing bender, and detox.