From Vine to TikTok, college students mirror on the function of short-form video sharing in life

In their quarantine-triggered introspection, some UNC students wonder if they have seen “two lovely best friends.” Others remember the days when they could “look at all those chickens.”

While some would argue that the platforms are very different, both TikTok and the now-defunct Vine have managed to create a huge, permanent presence on the internet by giving global audiences access to a wide variety of short videos .

Vine was discontinued four years ago, while TikTok began as a music video app in 2016. Since then, TikTok has grown into a wide variety of short videos that are shared by users.

Some students, like first year Christian Nightingale, even had their own brief glimpse of TikTok’s fame.

“It went so quickly,” said Nightingale. “I made a video of our move out in the fall and I think it was probably 24 hours after it was posted that it had about a million views. So if you don’t look at your phone for a day, a million people will see what you posted. ”

Nightingale said she doesn’t consider herself an avid TikToker. In fact, she believes that something unique about platforms like Vine and TikTok is their ability to put everyday people in the spotlight.

“You don’t have to have a lot of followers for a lot of people to see your videos,” said Nightingale. “And that keeps your ‘For You’ page more interesting because it’s not always the same four or five people.”

It’s no secret that short videos are growing in popularity on many social media platforms, including Instagram and Facebook. Even so, TikTok has managed to stay relevant for a long time, so many have to question its longevity.

Livis Freeman, a professor at the Hussman School of Journalism and Media, believes TikTok did a great job holding onto its roots – while the fall of Vine may have been due to his team’s attempt to grow bigger.

“For TikTok and similar apps to stay relevant, they don’t have to mess the formula,” Freeman said. “Often times these companies go wrong when they start optimizing it and they try to do better. They have to stick with what works and not try to be more than what they are. ”

Freeman believes TikTok may also be more successful than Vine, as it allows users to collaborate and even share music.

Nowadays, short videos have become so popular that companies on the internet are trying to get their share of the market.

“One of the reasons they’re participating is because of market share,” said Freeman. “You know the sheer amount of people who use TikTok or YouTube. If as many as five percent of people are using it, that’s still hundreds of thousands, and that leads to more advertising dollars. And if it doesn’t make dollars, it doesn’t make any sense. “

As social media apps keep evolving and updating, for better or for worse, some students may stick to the platforms they are most comfortable with.

First year Tate Blackburn said he preferred to use Instagram’s reels to get his brief video correction, largely thanks to the platform’s familiarity. But he still misses sharing Vine compilations with his friends.

“I think TikTok is so close to filling that void we have now without Vine,” said Blackburn. “It’s not a perfect substitute, but some TikToks have Vine energy and these are really satisfying. It kind of reminds me that Vine lives on. “

Blackburn has fought the urge to download TikTok in hopes of keeping his screen time at healthy levels.

While he believes TikTok has the potential to become a waste of time, he said that short-form video sharing platforms ultimately had a positive impact on society.

“People can quote popular vines or TikToks in daily conversation or when meeting new people,” said Blackburn. “I think quoting Vines in appropriate, funny situations is one of the most unique but great icebreakers.”

Due to the limited social interactions during the pandemic, TikTok has enabled millions of users to come together online at any time of the day and in any time zone for charity or celebration.

For Blackburn, this unit is well worth all the procrastination caused by short-form videos.

“In the age of COVID, where our world is as insane as it is politically and biologically, I feel that TikTok is bringing our generation together – as clichéd as it sounds – to create, be creative and be funny “, he said. “It gives us a medium to laugh and interact with other people. I think it was a good thing. ”


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