Vine’s abrupt announcement that it would be discontinuing the short-form content app in the coming months came as a shock to many people who believed that the platform still had some life in it. Founded in 2013, Vine presented the world with an infectious format that was so simple it was brilliant: six-second looping videos. No filters, no add-ons – just the content.
Over the years, Vine rose to become a cultural staple, with the Vine format infiltrating other social content platforms. Short, snappy humor ruled the Internet and birthed thousands of memes. Leading the way were a pack of everyday people who achieved overnight fame through their mastery of a unique and particular craft. Some of them became good friends, and featured each other in cross-over posts that proved popular with young audiences.
Once such creator was Jason Nash, a 42-year old father from California who amassed 2.7 million followers and more than 1.6 billion loops on Vine. I spoke with Jason to get a creator’s perspective on what made the platform so special and whether there’s life after Vine.
Did you know this day would come?
Vine was dying and declining for a long time, but I never thought they [Twitter] would total it completely. It’s crazy to think that people built millions upon millions of followers and now it’s just gone. I think it’s just a sign of the times. Technology is moving so quickly and we are so at the whim of it. We create these “machines” and then they take on a life of their own, and then one day they’re gone. That’s the nature of technology, though: Here today, gone tomorrow.
I recently made a movie based on Vine called “FML,” and in a lot of ways my time on Vine did feel like a movie. My friend called me after hearing the news and said, “It’s like a movie. You were on top of the world and now it’s over.”
Will you try to parlay your following to a different platform, like Snapchat or Instagram?
I have been for a while and do have sizable audiences on other social platforms. You can try to push your audience to other places – and some people will go with you – but you’re not going to push everyone elsewhere. I had 2.7 million followers on Vine, but I’m never going to be able to entice a million to join me somewhere else. A six-second Vine is a completely different art-form. It has all of these attributes that something like a Snapchat and YouTube doesn’t have. Each platform is so different, but nothing was like Vine. The whole art-form is dead and gone.
What was it about the format that made it resonate with so many people?
It was fast. You had to get your joke in within six seconds. Everybody has six seconds to watch a piece of content. If I were to show you a Vine on my phone, nobody would say, “No, I don’t have time.” There was something inherently special in the way the joke was delivered and the repeatability of it. I think, in the end, people (especially younger audiences) just got bored of it. What made it great was its limitations and what killed it was its limitations.
From a creator standpoint, there was also more money to be made on YouTube and Instagram. Vine wasn’t as lucrative for influencers, so some of the bigger creators left. They [Vine] never set up an ad product. They never allowed us to include links in our bios. Maybe their hands were tied with Twitter, but we always wondered why it was so hard to place a short ad within videos in stream, or allow for a link. That’s what confuses creators like myself the most. We’re grateful to Vine, but at the same time, we’re completely baffled.
Why do you think Vine felt more communal and more collaborative than other platforms?
The main reason we were all connected was time. We’re all struggling for time and we all want more time. With Vine, we didn’t need a lot of time to get together and make great content. You could get together with some friends and make a single long-form sketch in a day, or you could get together and make several Vines. Viewers loved the crossover appearances because they could see 30 people in three minutes of content. They got to know everyone.
Platforms like YouTube are different because there are a lot of different types of creators there. Some people do reviews, some make sketches, some people post how-to videos. On Vine, we were all working in the same format. Vine had so many constraints and we had that in common. It was everything for a lot of us: community, great friends and creativity.
What is it like being catapulted from “normal guy” to “Vine guy” overnight?
I remember in the beginning I had made a video with Brandon Calvillo. As we were driving home from the shoot, I remember watching my follower tick count up by 30,000 in a single day. It’s an adrenaline rush to gain followers. If you make a video and it does well, it does almost feel like a drug. You feel high and happy. Without question, everyone in my position on the platform would say that. We love to be recognized. If someone wants to take a photo with me, I think it’s awesome.
Now that Vine’s dead, I feel like the fame will go away. I used to walk around the mall and hear people say, “It’s that Vine guy!” Now they can’t say that because it doesn’t exist anymore.
What’s next for a Vine celeb like yourself?
Luckily, my Vines will live on elsewhere. Vine is keeping a desktop version of the app where people can browse content, and several compilation videos of my work are on YouTube. I’ll continue pursuing comedy on other platforms like Instagram and YouTube. There are still audiences and business opportunities there. I’m also working on another movie and some TV projects. There are a lot of fans that will still support Vine creators, so we’re in a fairly good spot.
The saddest part is that you feel like a chunk of your life is over. It’s almost like you graduated college and you’re sad about it, but you know it’s over and you can never go back. You’ll never be able to do that again and it’s gone. When I first heard the news I was mad, but now I realize that it’s time to move on.