This article originally appeared on VICE US
It's a video that lasts six seconds and loops for as long as you care to watch: A couple young men go into a Staples and learn they actually sell staples. They give one another a knowing glance. "Wait," one says. "You know what this means." Smash cut to the two of them sprinting toward a Dick's Sporting Goods.
On Thursday, Twitter announced that, along with several hundred layoffs, it would be shutting down its video-sharing app Vine, which made silly, unique videos like the one above possible. People reacted to the closure the same way they did when Twitter purchased the "video clip company" before its official launch: They were confounded. In late 2012, when Twitter acquired Vine, ad agencies were skeptical of their ability to make it work for clients or turn a profit, understandably unaware of the incredible wealth of possibility that could be injected in six-second video loops. Now, with Vine dead before even reaching its fifth birthday, the internet has responded with overwrought eulogies and compilations, and seemingly every active Twitter user declaring what he or she considers to be the Best Vine of All Time. (This one, obviously.)
But what will become of all the Vine users, the ones who used the app to propel themselves into minor degrees of stardom in tiny corners of the internet?
Luckily, I went to high school with one (the guy sprinting into Dick's Sporting Goods in the video above), so I called up Andrew Marbach, a self-described "Z-list social media star" who was dubbed the "funniest Rutgers student on Vine" by the Huffington Post in 2014, to see how he felt about the death of his precious platform.
VICE: Can you give me some context for who you are in the Vine world?
Andrew Marbach: I would consider myself, as lame as this sounds, a first-generation Viner. I was one of the first. Earlier on, I was probably one of the top Viners, and then I took a hiatus because I felt the app was slowing down and becoming polluted with generic material. This [hiatus] was like a year and a half ago. I have around 360,000 followers, and I'm probably a tier below what you would consider a "Vine superstar," those guys who have TV shows now or whatever. I never really got into paid ads. I did a few that I couldn't pass up on, but I had a real job. I work crazy hours on something that has nothing to do with comedy and creating content, so it was strictly a creative outlet for me. It was a hobby that conflicted with my corporate job because I would have clients saying, "Hey, I saw you in that Vine chasing after dicks screaming like, 'I love cock,'" and I'm like, "OK, I'm trying to sell you frozen food right now."
Why did you say it slowed down a year and a half ago?
It happened around the time Vine introduced the revine feature, basically like the retweet. I think the feature was a great evolution, but Vine not monitoring or curating people from abusing the feature led to recycled content polluting people's feeds. This discouraged the actually funny content creators from posting, which resulted in losing users.
I also believe Vine trying to be a social media app for too long, in its early stages, hurt it the most. It stood no chance against Instagram and Snapchat, and once it actually realized and accepted that, it was too late. They should've marketed and designed the app as an entertainment app from the get-go.
Are you surprised it's over?
I'm sure everyone was surprised. I was taken back that it happened now, but my reason for slowing down and stopping, taking that hiatus a year and a half ago, was because I saw it: It wasn't going anywhere, and it seemed like it was on a deep decline. It actually plateaued back then, and I should have kept making stuff so I wasn't completely shocked. But I was shocked that it was now, and not like a year from now.
What about Vine appealed to you?
Simplicity. A lot of people liked it because of simplicity, and when the app first came out, you literally just touched the screen and recorded. There was no editing, no reshooting scenes, no swapping out sound. Maybe that's another reason it failed. It got convoluted and intricate. When it first started, it was extremely easy, so the average idiot, like me, didn't have to be a filmmaker to do it. Is the dream dead now? You're not going to pursue Snapchat or Facebook or YouTube?
What's made it a very depressing day is that I kept putting off getting back into it as heavily as I once was. I figured I had time, and I never really used it as a platform to propel my social media following onto another, more reliable platform.
So you should have used your Vine to get more Twitter followers, but you just let Vine sort of exist on its own?
Yeah. A lot of people did that, that kind of self-promotion. I suspect they realized it might not have the same life expectancy as YouTube or Snapchat or Twitter or Facebook, so they used Vine to get followers elsewhere, in case Vine died. I never did that. If you log into Vine right now, all my Vine friends are making Vines saying, "Oh, this is so sad, but follow me on Snapchat and Facebook."
What was it like being a member of the Vine community?
I used to laugh about it at first, and my friends would make fun of me when I'd do Vine meetups with locals, but it actually did become a genuine community. That sounds so stupid, but it really was.
How many people were in this community?
Shit, I don't know. Hundreds.
Was there a mix between the first-generation people and the ones who got into it much later?
It was definitely mixed. It was like a high school social caste system. There were the most followed people. You went to the Vine parties, and the most followed people still had this sort of chip on their shoulder, and that's why, at first, I was like, "This sucks, I do not want to be here at all." But eventually, as new generations of creators came into it, it really did become this genuine community, like I said.
Are you going to miss Vine?
Of course. It was my only platform, and I might be the anomaly because, as I mentioned, I wasn't a super active self-promoter. I'm definitely going to miss it because it was an option for me. It was an avenue that I had a fanbase on, and you know, I'm kind of skeptical that it's just going to die. I feel like someone might look into investing or buying it. I don't know if that's even true, though.
What stood out about Vine? You think the six seconds is what really defined it?There's going to be a void in the entertainment market that people will crave, and Vine created a niche that is going to want to be filled by something else. Instagram people, in my opinion, are not going to turn to Instagram to get what Vine provided. Vine turned into purely a comedy and entertainment app. It's like reading a short witty tweet. You don't want to read a short story that's funny; you want to read a tweet. A lot of people are spoiled now. They don't want to watch a four-minute YouTube video. They want to hear a quick joke and watch it loop. It's something that people, especially me, are going to miss and crave.
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