In a TikTok captioned ‘perfect sunset vibes…’, a girl clad all in white glides along a pier at sunset. On YouTube, an anthropomorphised Game Boy superimposed onto a background of pastel-coloured clouds bobs along to a lofi hip hop beat. Its title? ‘Just vibin’. On Spotify, playlists like ‘Chill Vibes’ (which has over 2 million likes) offers listeners off-the-shelf ambience.
The popularity of this type of content highlights the growing emphasis placed on the broad body of digital content categorised into the genre of ‘vibes’.
And it is broad. But much of the content within it is united by a common purpose – to elicit a specific and recognisable emotional response that unites all who engage with it. This is a new generation of social content – one that connects people through moods and feelings, not just simple interactions.
Of course, vibes and social media are already comfortable bedfellows. When Instagram launched with iconic filters like X-Pro II and Clarendon, it was beloved for giving its users the tools to translate any everyday image into a #vibe. On Tumblr, each person’s page was a window into their own personal vibe: at its peak, a place for teens to be in their feelings, and connect with others who felt the same.
But the emergence of TikTok – and the exclusively ‘sound on’ experience of social it’s hailed in – has increased the prominence (and value) of vibes. And as we move into the metaverse, this convergence of multisensory inputs will only grow more central to the way people experience digital spaces
A whole new genre of content and creator has moved to the fore: one defined by curating a specific mood or feeling.
From cupidcore to cabincore, the prevalence of ‘cores’ in the digital landscape speaks to young people’s desire to evoke an emotional response through the curation of audiovisual cues and references that span cinema, fashion, art, pop culture and more.