By John Linderman

Elm Staff Writer

Often, I lament the death of Vine like that of a beloved, enchanting woodland creature. Vine, too, was seemingly hunted and slayed for some unknown, adult reason we hesitate to grasp. This is how I thought for a good while before researching the real downfall of Vine.

Simply put, the app could not keep up with the competition that it had inspired. When Instagram created their own short video post options in 2016, Vine could not reclaim its monopoly on short-attention-span entertainment. This is coupled with the exodus of Vine celebrities to sites like YouTube, where they could expand their creative output longer than six seconds.

Until now, though, the lurid digital promenade known as TikTok had escaped me. What, exactly, is TikTok?

The original platform for TikTok was the app called Musical.ly, which was infamous for its lip-syncing videos. With Musical.ly, a user could record an up-to-one-minute video of themselves singing along with a song of their choice. These videos were coupled with a social media platform where users could share the videos amongst themselves and receive ratings, comments, and followers.

The critical reception for Musical.ly was mixed at best, but it proved immensely popular with Generation Z. Although the app was bought by the Chinese corporation ByteDance in November 2017, TikTok follows much of the same formula today.

In fact, unlike Vine, TikTok gives its users many ways to customize their 15-second videos. Yet, despite the widespread popularity, some people still hold reservations against the explosive app.

The parent company of TikTok, ByteDance, has a sister app for those in mainland China called Douyin. This app features many of the same aspects as TikTok, except it is tailored for a Chinese audience and in compliance with governmental censorship rules. You cannot download TikTok in the People’s Republic. Some are suspicious that ByteDance may have a more sinister agenda, and cite the fact that TikTok employs artificial intelligence in its programming to monitor unsuspecting westerners.

Yet, if one were to download the app and take stock of the daily submissions, it is made up teenagers and kids recording themselves in dares, and singing, acting, showing feats of physicality, or drama with other users. This is, at least, what I can attest to upon downloading the app and then deleting it minutes later. I felt like I had downloaded something wrong, and thought about how it all seemed like garish junk in comparison to Vine.

“I just feel it’s a Vine rehash” said senior William Lesoravage. “We are the Vine generation, and this is just a weak knock-off in my opinion.”

Indeed, to those of us who hold fond memories of “He needs some milk” and “Hi, I’m Jared,” TikTok feels insincere. Whether TikTok is actually a surveillance ploy or just a digital jungle gym is largely up to personal discretion.

Something about it all seems so dizzying. TikTok has exploded on the App Store, and exploring the app today will bombard the viewer with one loop after another. Was Vine much different? Or are our nostalgia goggles on too tight?

With all the different customization features that TikTok offers today, we find a just simplicity in our fond memories for Vine. It was a cool six seconds of effective comedy.

Today, we can find an endless amount of Vine compilations on YouTube with diverse titles such as “vines that cured my depression” and “chaotic evil vines.” Thankfully, Vine stands proud today in its digital mausoleum.

Yet with TikTok growing larger by the day, should we abandon our nostalgia and recognize the new king in the castle, or denounce the app as a usurper? I’m asking a lot of questions, and none of them have a real, objective answer. I do think that we need to take a deeper look into the future of split-second entertainment.

Does the road work ahead? Uh, yeah, we have to hope it does.

The Elm

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