Why Gen Z is plugging in wired headphones and tuning out AirPods

What is the must-have accessory this fall? It's $30 for a pair of wired headphones, according to Gen Z.
Why is it that "It" girls such as Lily Rose Depp or the Olsen twins are switching to wired earbuds instead and plugging into their phones? Shelby Hull, a 24-year-old creator and administrator of @wireditgirls' Instagram account, said that wired is an attitude. It is how you conduct yourself and move around the world.

TikTok's most popular "It" girl is Lily Rose Depp, actress and model. She is a French nepotism baby and moves around the world with a calm carelessness. She is unbothered by her wired earphones.

"She is very well put together. But, it's like, "How did I get this designer outfit that looks so stylish and put together?" Hull stated that it just fell into place. "Wired headphones kinda say that too. It's almost like saying, "I didn't think about this. I don't have the time right now."

TikTok user @taylorchalametdepp4's video praising Depp's use of wired earphones and @almondbutterchaos's clip captioned "why am I falling back in love with wire earphones" are examples of the kinds of wired discourse found on the platform.

This TikTok captions "Why am I falling in love with wire headphones?" Credit: Tiktok / almondbutterchaos

Liana Satenstein, a Vogue writer about Bella Hadid's plans to bring back the accessory in 2019, was the beginning of the idea of the wired "It girl." This piece was written by Liana Satenstein for Vogue. In 2016, Apple's AirPods had almost completely replaced the accessory in our collective consciousness. On Sept. 30, 2021, @thedigifairy, a TikTok account, posted a viral video in which they declared that wired headphones were officially an accessory. The viral video received over 2 million views and is still being viewed.

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The first post was made by @wireditgirls the next day. It now has 1,665 followers and features Michelle Li, Bella Hadid and Zoe Kravitz going about their day and looking effortlessly cool in their wired headphones.

Hull spoke out about the origin of the account by saying that Liana [Satenstein] had tweeted, "some idiot/genius please make a page just of hot girls wearing wired headsets." "I was returning from CycleBar class when five photos of Zoe Kravitz, Lily Rose Depp and other wired headphones appeared in my head. I created the page and began posting that morning.

She says AirPods have always lacked cool-girl appeal.

They are practical and functional, which is the antithesis to cool. They are what Apple made us use. AirPods were introduced alongside the iPhone 7 which was the first iPhone to have a universal headset jack. iPhone users now have the option of spending $150 or the standard EarPods included with their device (the ones that you can't use while charging your iPhone) and either going for AirPods.

AirPods have become synonymous with an uncool aesthetic: the tech and finance bros. These pods beg to be worn with a Patagonia Better Sweater fleece while on calls where men use incomprehensible terms like "synergy", in real conversation.

Catherine Condit, a 21 year-old UC Berkeley student, said that it felt like selling out if one bought AirPods. She also dislikes tech culture so much she refused to buy them.

Ruby Sutton disposed of her AirPods during her time abroad in France in 2019. The 22-year old explained that she resorted to wired earphones after returning from France for study.

The wired earphones are a completely different style statement. Wearing wired headphones means that you are disassociating yourself from current trends. They desire to be plugged in to simpler times.

SEE ALSO: Apple AirPods kill the best thing about sharing headphones

Apple's first pair of earphones was released in 2001 alongside their first iPod. The wired earphones were a major part of the iconic advertising for iPods during the aughts. The ads featured black silhouettes of people dancing against bright backgrounds. The iPod and its headphones stood out in stark contrast to the white background. These ads were placed on billboards as well as on TV. The video ads were paired by cool songs such As You Gonna Be my Girl by the Jets or Technologic by Daft Punk.

Wired headphones are still popular today, but for a very different reason.

Hull said, "I love the signal that they send." It's almost like saying, "Please don't speak to me. I'm too busy." AirPods don't really say that. If I can see the AirPods inside, I will still speak to them, but if you only have a wire in, it is clear that I won't approach you. That's my ideal accessory.

The wire is an accessory visible to your ears that indicates that you are listening to something or that you are occupied. You must turn off all other sounds in order to be plugged into your earbuds. To talk to someone, you must physically take out your earbuds. AirPods can't deliver that much power. They have never been able to. Wireless headphones are a popular trend that is accessible to everyone at a much lower price.

TikTokker Torie Tagliavia posted the video with the caption @toriestyle: "good thing these headphones have become trendy, because i can not afford air pods." Mashable reported that the 22-year old had never bought AirPods, and she has been using wired headphones almost daily on her For You Page.

Tagliavia used the trend to showcase the wired headphones she had worn for years. Credit: Tiktok/ toriestyle

Not only celebrities and Extremely Online people can be wired. This trend has now spread to high schools and off-screen. Lilabel Kierstead is a Western Massachusetts student at 14 years old. She said, "If you want to be unique or have a sense of style, then wired headphones might work."

The youths have spoken.