Why I’m Sad Vine Is Ending

Vine is effectively ending today, and I’m so sad. In a Medium post released Thursday afternoon, Vine (and Twitter, it’s owner) announced plans to eventually discontinue the mobile app. “We’ll be keeping the website online because we think it’s important to still be able to watch all the incredible Vines that have been made,” the release read, promising to work with makers to figure out the best plan of action regarding the site’s trove of short form videos. Somewhere along the way, Vine died. Its stars — prodigal sons like King Bach and Logan Paul — have parlayed their following into TV fame. Instagram now dominates the short, viral video scene, but for a while it felt like there was no better (or funnier, or more fun) place to be Black on the internet than in these choppy, compact videos. The site was home to footage for us, by us. Even after its prime, there was always the occasional middle of the day Twitter thread — “i wanna do one of these vine threads” — that had me in a fit of laughter at my desk or on the subway ride home. These videos were short enough so that you never tired of them, and their innate compatibility with Twitter made them a useful alternative to reaction gifs.
Before I really got the hang of Twitter and before Instagram allowed users to post videos, Vine was the place to be Black online. The short form video app, where users could shoot and cut their own comedy, felt like a little revolution in Black filmmaking. My own first Vines were imperfect — giggly, inside jokes from that time my college friends and I snuck into a hotel pool or walked into a party at the wrong house — but there were so many that felt like real and hilarious achievements. It was one thing to watch humor that had been vetted in a writers room or audience tested for a big-budget release; Vines were just little moments that we all caught onto, brief scenes that became shorthand. “I was told by Apple Care,” “Why you always lyin’,” and subtle reminders that sometimes the simple act of nae nae-ing to an unexpected song is it’s own form of subversive protest. Vine didn’t change the course of Black history, and I’ll probably forget about its absence by next October. But right now I feel sad, mostly because this news is ultimately a reminder of the impermanence every online space. We’re all living peripatetic lives on the internet — moving from MySpace to Facebook, from Flickr to Tumblr — and I’m not sure what I’ll do if one day I can’t find that perfectly spontaneous moment of a tween explaining what it means to gossip.

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