The Secret Life of Amazon’s Vine Reviewers

Excerpt from this article:

Vine has already changed a lot, changing with it the lives of its reviewers. The life of a super-Viner is one for which not everyone is well adapted. Last year, on Reddit, a Vine reviewer who had been in the program since 2007 shared that she had been kicked out. “I’m getting ready to downsize,” she said, “and was so relieved to log in tonight and see that I am no longer a part of Amazon Vine.”

She continued: “Pretty much my whole house is furnished with Amazon Vine. I eat Amazon Vine daily, and groom with Amazon Vine daily. I was no longer selective. I got divorced some years ago and it was nice to not want to take any material things with me because I knew goodies would be coming my way, and I was blessed with so much.” It’s a startling sentiment, to be relieved to no longer have access to, effectively, unlimited free stuff. But commenters — other Viners — were generally sympathetic. In a private message, she explained to me how she had drifted into a state of “overconsumption.” Things were exciting for a few years, she said, mentioning the same thrill in nabbing a good item, or a “shiny,” enjoying the rhythmic patterns of old Vine.

But then the feed came along. “I found myself checking the queue a dozen times a day,” she said. “I didn’t want to miss the next great thing.”

People tend to consider purchases. But when things are given to you, and it’s your job to review them, the value of the object gets scrambled in surprising ways, and its influence on your life becomes easy to minimize, or disregard. The free rug needs artwork to match. You wanted a road bike, but the beach cruiser was free, and now you have a bike, but you don’t really ride it. You get a Keurig, and you hate it, but Vine keeps sending K-cups, and so you keep drinking them. “Eventually, I think Vine caught on that I wanted a Nespresso from my search history,” she wrote, “and I was finally offered a Nespresso.”

“I have eleven Vine watches, yet I only wear two on a regular basis,” she said. “Before Vine, I did not even own a watch, as I considered them old-fashioned when you can check the time on your cellphone.”