My mornings start the same way my nights end: lying on my bed, laptop propped up on my legs as I watch a series of different Vine compilations on YouTube.
I’ve seen most of the compilations at least once, scrolling through the recommended videos off to the side just to ensure I haven’t missed any. The compilations include the same Vines for the most part, pulling from other collections, sharing the same six-second video of a potato on a string flying around a room. Vine compilations gather the weird, the best, the forgotten, the treasured and, most importantly, capture the memory of why we loved Vine in the first place.
There are few apps or platforms that I really care about. I’m a fan of Twitter, but if it were gone tomorrow, I could sleep a little easier knowing that World War III wasn’t going to start over a poorly worded message at four in the morning. Instagram is fun, but I wouldn’t think twice about not having it should the app suddenly disappear. Vine was different.
we threw a vine themed party to prove once and for all that VINE IS NOT DEAD pic.twitter.com/HyZkJTMNkQ— kylie heyman (@kylieLheyman) February 19, 2018
I often joke that comedy didn’t exist before Vine, and that’s not to shame the very funny YouTubers (or, you know, actual comedians) who came before. The little six-second bursts of witty, outrageous and strange conversation or action that took place made for perfect entertainment to watch in short spurts or longer marathons. I found myself spending hours in the app, going from one Vine to the next. It sucked up an hour or two of my night, and when it was on Twitter, I could share those same videos with others who felt similarly. I find myself still doing that now thanks to YouTube compilations.
Vine came into its own with help from Twitter. Sharing the best Vines people stumbled across became easier and Vine became an even more communal experience. Reflecting on the cultural movement that Vine drove is akin to looking back at anything with a nostalgic eye. There’s a great sorrow over Vine’s death, a desire to return to a better of time as sorts, and embrace the group of people who seemed to have the exact same taste in comedy.
Vine compilations can’t return us to that time, but they do a remarkable job of letting us experience the original magic Vine held not long ago.
There’s an iconography to the most popular and beloved Vines that we can recall in a heartbeat. The kid who almost dropped his croissant; Johnny and his 19 bottles of soap; a shirtless kid welcoming you to Chili’s; loving yourself even if you look like a burnt chicken nugget. Vine inspired an entire generation of creators, many of whom are now popular YouTubers like Lele Pons and Christine Sydelko, but more importantly, forever changed internet culture.
In December 2017, two Temple University freshman, Emily Beck and Adam Gasiewski, published a collection of “poetry” called Milk and Vine that parodied Rupi Kaur, possibly the most influential and popular Instagram poet. Beck and Gasiewski’s Milk and Vine turned six-second Vines into low-rate poetry and was crafted on a whim to prove just how easy it was to sell a book. Milk and Vine soon became the No. 1 best-selling title on Amazon, taking over far more influential and, well, serious books. It was just Vines written out.
There’s a reason their book is so successful. It’s the same reason most Vine compilations accrue tens and hundreds of thousands of views, if not pushing into the millions. We love Vine. You think about some of the best Vines once an hour if you’re anything like me. Vine compilations, which in itself have become a cultural moment on YouTube as people try to outdo one another’s names for playlists, are the embodiment of reaction GIFs, Tumblr pages and Twitter threads. They’re a reminder that, for a brief time, teenagers from different cities and suburbs were finding ways to make subversive comedy, finding an audience of like-minded weirdos who found a pretty democratic platform.
Vine was never boring. Sure, you had to scroll through some less than favorable videos, but the app was rife with potential to find some undiscovered genius who would quickly amass thousands of followers. I remember sending Vines to my friends in college, laughing with them for hours as we discovered and rediscovered short videos that made us double over with laughter, arms clutching stomachs aching from laughing too hard.
I do the same thing now, but with Vine compilations. I can’t share individual Vines anymore, so I send the best collections I can find. Vine compilations aren’t trying to take over the space that Vine vacated; no one can ever fill those shoes. Nor is that a time we can ever go back to, despite attempts being made with V2, a followup to Vine. The beauty in Vine is that it existed as an overwhelming cultural moment that so many of us belonged to, and it was ripped away before it could become anything less than perfect. I can look back fondly on Vine because it was never given a chance to let me down the same way YouTube has from time to time.
Vine is important to so many people for so many different reasons. I can only speak for myself. Vine isn’t just a platform for comedians and musicians to have a voice and try to make their mark, it’s a reminder of how welcoming an online community can be. That’s not to imply Vine was a safe haven, but there was an encouragement among its users to experiment, to not be afraid of how stupid you look because Vine celebrated the dorkiest of the dorks. As the internet seems to become crueler and scarier with each passing day and news story, Vine’s harmonious community seems even more miraculous.
For a brief moment, it felt like Vine redefined how we interact with people on the internet, and it gave us just enough hope to encourage the new YouTubers of tomorrow. There’s no doubt that Vine was an important edifying time for learning how to encourage people to make the strangest things that, it turns out, we’re still laughing about and celebrating years later. Vine compilations remind us that our love for discovering new talent who aren’t afraid to take risks is why we love DIY culture so much.
I’ll spend the rest of my weekend watching Vine compilations, sending links to friends, and laughing as I reminisce. I’m sad Vine is gone, but I’m thankful its legacy will continue to live and thrive on YouTube thanks to dedicated supporters.
As one YouTube commenter said, “VINE IS ALIVE AS LONG AS I AM ALIVE.”