In defense of Vine

By all rights, I shouldn’t even be worked up about the Vine vs. InstaVideo thing. The latter only just rolled out a few days ago, and I didn’t even touch Vine until today. And yet here I am, reclining on my bed with my cranky laptop, broadcasting to the world my befuddling strong opinion about this issue. Which, incidentally, I was cognizant of only moments ago.

Basically, I don’t agree with this whole “Vine is obsolete” stance. Yes, both Vine and Instagram allow you to post videos. And yes, Instagram is the more popular of the two. And yes, Instagram has filters while Vine does not. So I do understand why people would think that Vine is going the way of the dinosaurs. But at the end of the day, Vine is entirely different from Instagram, and in the best of ways. Which is why I believe that Vine is here to stay. At least for now.

First of all, let’s talk identity. Instagram is, first and foremost, a photo community. That’s what it was created to be, and what it has built itself to be. And it has done a fantastic job at being that. Vine, likewise, is a video community. And likewise, it is pretty kickbutt at being that. Granted, there’s nothing inherently wrong in branching out, but in my opinion you’ve got to have a pretty darn good reason to do so. Otherwise, you’ll end up like Jamba Juice, which used to be this amazing smoothie place until they went bonkers and started serving pastries and breakfast foods and pizza and pretty much anything and everything that wasn’t a smoothie. And now, I don’t know what Jamba Juice is anymore. Not a smoothie shop, that’s for sure.

There’s also the difference of vibes. Instagram is strongly documenting-minded. People who use Instagram don’t post their photos—and now videos—because they’re trying to build a portfolio, or create an art gallery. They post what they want to remember, as well as share with friends, of their day-to-day moments. In other words, Instagram acts as a visual diary. Or a series of digital polaroids. Or photographic telegrams. (Which, by the way, is what inspired the founders to make Instagram.) Vine, on the other hand, is more of a creative community. And I think this is due to Vine’s primary features: the loop, and the six-second time limit. The features certainly don’t stop users from shooting and posting videos of the straightforward, documenting, shaky camcorder variety. They do, however, encourage users to incorporate them in their videos, and subsequently active, deliberate storytelling. They also lead to some pretty clever Vines, like Table Toast by yelldesignMoving Image by origiful, and Tape Drivers by Yves Das.

Lastly, InstaVids are obnoxious. Like Jack-in-a-boxes that go off unexpectedly. Granted, this is more of a whine than a legitimate complaint, but honestly it bothers me that I can no longer scroll through my Instagram feed without worrying about a video playing suddenly—and loudly. If Instagram decided to shut off the auto-play feature, and allow volume control, I would be much happier.

“But isn’t Vine the same way?” you ask.

To which I answer: yes. But the difference is I come to Vine with the expectation that everything on my feed will be auto-playing and loud. That’s not the case on Instagram.

I should clarify, I didn’t set out on this post to bash InstaVid. I think there’s a time and place for (almost) everything, and InstaVid certainly has its place amongst the Internet denizens. The ability to share videos—moving pictures—opens up a great deal of potential for storytelling and memory-catching, and I for one am interested in seeing where the masses decide to take this new feature in the months ahead. I’ve already come across some pretty cool vids, including this one shot by Yewon Kim. I’m sure there will be more to come from other users. I just wanted to put it out there that, contrary to popular belief, Vine is not obsolete. To believe otherwise is to think in overly simplified terms. Vine and Instagram are similar, but very different platforms. They each have something to offer that the other doesn’t, and I think that difference is exactly what will keep Vine relevant for a good length of time.

I close this unexpected post with an invitation. Or rather, a plea. I’d invite you guys to follow my Vine account, but I’ve no idea how to make my profile linkable. So here’s a screenshot from my phone. Figure it out if you can.

In the meantime, get out there and make good art!