Do you remember the outrage that coincided with the decision from companies like Apple and Samsung to remove the headphone jack from their phones? The internet was aghast with individuals expressing the sheer horror of what losing the headphone jack meant to them. Public disdain for the headphone jack’s untimely demise eventually subsided as wireless earbuds and their over-the-head counterparts began to rise exponentially in popularity. However, in an unlikely turn of events, Wirecutter reported that the tides seem to be changing, and wired earbuds, once again are becoming all the rage.
The comeback of wired earbuds can be attributed to an array of societal trends. One likely and rather valid reason is rooted in the public’s rising concern for the environment. All headphones at some point will stop working, however, the lifespan of wireless headphones is often much shorter than their wired predecessors. The reason for this is that wireless headphones run on batteries that need to be charged. Those batteries will eventually discharge effectively leaving the headphones useless even if all of their other components still remain in working order. More broken headphones means more headphones are being thrown out, which is not ideal in a world that is already overrun by excessive waste. Thus, because wired headphones last longer, they don’t contribute to added waste as often which in turn makes them a more environmentally-friendly choice.
Moreover, in addition to the potential environmental benefits that go along with using wired earbuds, there is also a practical reason many are choosing the don the retro-ish headsets -they’re cheaper. In fact, they are way cheaper. For instance, the cheapest current model of Apple AirPods goes for $149.99 on Amazon whereas a wired set of Apple’s earbuds will only set one back $19. The significant savings alone is likely enough for many to forgo the wireless in favor of the wired.
Another reason likely contributing to the wired earbud’s surge in popularity has more to do with the influence of popular culture more than anything else. The Wall Street Journal detailed in an article that rocking wired earbuds has become a social trend being adopted particularly by young women. The fad began to catch on after young female celebrities like Lily-Rose Depp and Zoë Kravitz began wearing wired headphones out in public. Natalia Christina, director of strategy and branding for the Digital Fairy said that wearing the headphones is meant to evoke the message of “I’m not available” and “It gives the air of ‘do not disturb.” Essentially, it creates a physical barrier without there really being a physical barrier, and with so many young women often being subjected to catcalling for simply walking down the street, wearing wired headphones comes as a welcome defense mechanism.
It still remains to be seen if this growing trend will continue to take off in the coming months. However, it is clear that choosing wired earbuds over their still-popular wireless counterparts does have its advantages. Even if you are not one looking to ward off undesirable social advances, they are still more affordable and environmentally friendly which amounts to nothing short of a win-win.