So something happens in the culture and you want to immerse yourself in it completely and immediately—say, a Knowles/Carter internecine conflict. Where are you supposed to go? Facebook is too slow and too dumb. Twitter is an overwhelming cascade of bad topical jokes and links; it will get you there, but it feels like work. Tumblr is great if you already know your way around and unapproachable if you don’t. You can check all your popular culture websites sites for the roundups and updates but at that stage the magic has been stripped away. What are we supposed to do, Google stuff? No! Nightmare.
Here’s what I’ve been doing lately: When something BUZZY happens, something that people will want to riff on, something that the internet will process in its accelerated late-night-comedy way, I skip straight to Vine. Honestly! It’s an oasis of joy in an otherwise barren land: People are having fun there, or at least it seems that way. I groan at Tweets and Facebook posts and image memes almost instinctively. I don’t yet groan at Vines, because I know if I keep scrolling for a minute or two I will find a good one. Vine humor, for now, is allowed to be casual: For whatever reason, the form is kind to people who are naturally, not professionally, funny. Funny-with-their-friends funny. It’s an app full of pretty good singers, pretty good physical comedians, pretty good video editors and pretty good sketch performers. It’s refreshing and, since Vine doesn’t really have useful search or subject pages, effectively transient.
On off days, when Viners don’t have anything in particular to talk about, it’s still captivating. The app’s “Comedy” section is sort of like an infinite, obscene episode of America’s Funniest Teen Videos; some of it is mean, some of it is stupid, a lot of it is just endearingly try-hard and ragged. And as far as I can tell, Twitter, which owns Vine, has no idea what to do with it and sort of regards it as a failure. This, counter-intuitively, means it will probably stay good for a while. Soak it in! It will be ruined eventually, too.