Gen Z is bringing back landline phones because they think they look ‘cool’: ‘I love to twirl the cord’ ( )

cross-posted from:

• Gen Z's nostalgia for the early 2000s is sparking a revival of landline phones, seen as a retro-chic escape from the digital age.

• Influenced by '90s and 2000s TV shows, young adults like Nicole Randone and Sam Casper embrace landlines for their vintage appeal.

• Urban Outfitters capitalizes on Gen Z's love for nostalgia by selling retro items like landline phones alongside fashion trends from the '90s and 2000s.

Kolanaki , avatar

I can kinda understand the feeling. My personal land line phone as a teen (cuz my bedroom had a phone line) was like the old 1800's style rotary phone where the mic was stationary and the hand unit was just a cup for your ear. It felt fancier.

User79185 ,

My landline have been turned off completely.

interolivary , avatar

I live in an apartment building that was constructed in '22 and a landline wasn't even an option anymore, it's all just gigabit ethernet.

Bene7rddso ,

You can get a VoIP phone that works over the Internet

interolivary , avatar

Sure, but it's not a landline anymore

tesseract ,

They're probably hooked on wired sets - not necessarily landlines.

ThatFembyWho ,

Not as strange or pointless as it might seem at first glance, I'm reminded of this article from years ago comparing the experience of a modern phone with the old handsets:

What does Gen Z suffer from even more than the rest of us? Loneliness, isolation. So using a phone that is designed with physical comfort foremost is a way of reclaiming a sense of social connection and physical touch ("reach out and touch someone"), even when distances between callers are great. And touching the cord, again, a way of feeling the connection with the other person, which in a world of wireless devices isn't possible -- there's nothing there but empty space. It's not just about twirling the cord.

This isn't to suggest there are no benefits to smartphones, and others here suggest earbuds to improve call quality and ergonomics. But the fact is modern smartphones are designed to do many things OK-ish in compromise, but nothing so well as the other devices they replace (phones, TVs, calculators - remember those?, flashlights, keyboards, etc etc.)

SilverShark ,

Awesome grounded explanation!

And phones don't indeed replace many other devices. Like camaras too, for example. If you want to do really good photography, you actually need different kinds of lenses. Although lenses exist for smartphones, they are not that widespread, and using a camara is therefore still important.

Also a big point is the ergonomics of it. Handling a camara is much easier for long and complex photography sessions. Same with having a calculator at hand. It's easier to punch numbers in a physical keyboard. Or to handle a flashlight, or using a real keyboard to write a document. The list goes on and on and on.

ThatFembyWho ,

Oh yes, my phone is nearly impossible to use as a camera, between the inherently awkward shape, the case, and the long processing delay. Does it work? Yes. But it's not much fun. I love the ergonomic grip(s) of my DSLR and how every button and dial is in a natural position.

That's another thing we miss, plain old tactile feedback of buttons, dials, sliders, switches.

SilverShark ,

About buttons, it's also good they're going back on car interior design. Driving without physical buttons is just dangerous.

ThatFembyWho ,

Haha I'm driving my 13-year-old car like, what you all don't have buttons?!

tesseract ,

But the fact is modern smartphones are designed to do many things OK-ish in compromise, but nothing so well as the other devices they replace (phones, TVs, calculators - remember those?, flashlights, keyboards, etc etc.)

Weird! Am I the only one who hasn't completely replaced old equipment? I have all of those with me, including landline, radios, flashlights, TV, scientific calculators, keyboards, etc.

And as you mentioned, I prefer those individual equipment over smartphones unless the convenience really matters (like when traveling).

Ilandar ,

I don't get why millennials and older generations mock zoomers for these trends. What's wrong with enjoying old technology and childhood nostalgia? People are so needlessly petty when it comes to younger generations and their interests.

chatokun ,

Elder Millennial here, I hate the whole mocking of generations and hoped ours wouldn't do it as much, but I'm still seeing people of my generation doing so. We did stuff others might call dumb too, or just stuff for the hell of it.

Ilandar ,

Yeah it's particularly weird from millennials because it wasn't that long ago our "avocado toast" generation was absolutely copping it from boomers.

acastcandream ,

You're not allowed to have fun as a kid. Everyone knows that. BE PRODUCTIVE.

SilverShark ,

It's especially weird when you see these videos where they put very young people with some tech from the 90s, and the young person won't know what such a tech is.

Like, the classic is a floppy disk. They fell out of use in the mid 2000s. So someone born in the mid 2000s likely never saw one in use. And why should they? The ironic part is that people being impressed that a 18 year old doesn't know what a floppy disk is, also doesn't realize that floppys only become commercially available since the 70s. So a technology that had a lifespan of 30 to 40 years isn't widely recognize... yeah.... super impressive.

tesseract ,

I watched a few videos like that. It's OK most of the time. Those videos help see things from the perspective of the younger generation. It also helps you appreciate how much the world has changed.

Their confusion is understandable, if not amusing. It's fascinating to see some kids figure things out in a short time. Yet others have unreal knowledge about things they may have only heard about.

The only really annoying part is when some kids mock the elder generation for the 'primitive' tech and lifestyle they've had. Older tech may be primitive, but they were essential steps to what they have now. Even more, those older tech were things you could tinker with and learn - unlike the soldered and glued black boxes we have today. Besides, sometimes a little less tech is good for your emotional wellbeing.

What I learned from those videos is that those kids are as diverse as any other generation. Only their perspectives have changed.

SilverShark ,

You know what, you completely changed my opinion of these videos. I now think I had an unnecessary negative view on these.

This really made my day. Thanks kind stranger!

tesseract ,

It's very satisfying to hear that you made someone happy. Regards!

peter , avatar

Considering that every single generation has nostalgia its baffling to me this is even news

Ilandar ,

I don't mind hearing about these trends in younger generations but it depends how they're covered. Like the dumphone/flip phone one is a very positive news story and I think quite interesting to reflect on.

tesseract ,

If it matters, the mocking is not a commonly held attitude. When I read nostalgia, my response was 'that doesn't sound so bad'. Besides, wired handsets have their own charm. We still have a few around.

echodot ,

Can we possibly have a better source for this "story". Because that one's not reliable.

Although in reality it's not really a story is it

tesseract ,

'GenZ is emotionally attached to things from their childhood'. You can replace GenZ with any other generation and it will still work. The stupid article is about mocking one generation to create outrage among others.

GrindingGears ,

I don't miss landlines. Can't take the friggin landline with you wherever you go. (Affordable) Cell phones were the game changer.

Tinidril ,

A few years ago when I was working from home and on the phone all day, I much preferred my landline. My cell service was decent, but the landline was better. No dropped calls, no static or garbled audio (from my side anyways), and no latency causing me to talk over other callers. I always hated getting on calls when I was remote from my home office.

GrindingGears ,

It can make a difference for sure. I get good cell signal, even in my basement office, so it's not as big of a factor for me. But I can see how that could suck.

SilverShark ,

I feel like over the last 20 years landlines become this thing you still had from the past in which you only got spam calls. Like, you're home, and suddenly you hear a strange noise, you realize it's the landline ringing. You forgot about it. It's that thing sitting on some shelves with a cord. You pick it up, and you hear something about your car's extended warrenty.

Trafficone ,

One thing people forget is long distance fees. Cell phones basically did away with long distance fees, and we're better for that. However, landlines have some notable benefits:

  • self-powered, you could call in a power outage
  • high fidelity, yeah it was bandpass filtered, but everything in that filter made it through
  • freedom of usage, it was hard-fought but you could plug anything into your phone line, from more phones to answering machines to computer modems. There was a whole market around "dumb shit you plugged into your phone line" products

We're still way better overall with cell phones, but something was lost to get them.

Sibbo , avatar

The optimal phone is both corded and wireless: it has a receiver corded to a base piece with a traditional dial, but the base piece is wireless.

teawrecks ,

I'm starting to view fads as a form of annealing. To knock ourselves out of local maxima, humans have an predisposition for finding a reason to go back and try old stuff again. If there was something useful to it, it'll be reflected in the tools they create. I guess rebellion in general is just as evolutionarily useful as conformity. The Exploration/Exploitation dichotomy.

nossaquesapao ,

Sometimes I wonder if some companies or groups are paying to publish "news" about genz using this or that, as a way to promote their stuff. It looks to me as a good and cheap tactic, since some younger people would look into the "trend", trying not to miss it, while some older people would look into it trying to stay "cool" and not look out of fashion.

But then I think again, and it looks like too much of a conspiracy theory. Why does my brain do that?

SilverShark ,

I think it does work like that. Companies do spend money to promote heir products in non obvious ways. Nowadays Influencers use products even without stating that they are being sponsored. There were news that gas companies were paying Influencers to make photos cooking over gas stoves. This hangs also on the opinion many seem to have that cooking with gas is much better then induction or similar.

Companies also pay for "news" articles sometimes. Sometimes you see these "news" articles about the super innovative startup in your area that is about to unleash the next big thing into the world. You read and it's only an article built on promises. No actual thing that is worth reporting as news happened, but the company is now featured in the news papers.

Thorny_Insight ,

I bet there are dozens of people doing this.

averyminya ,

Think about it - corded phones died because we needed to walk around and talk. I mean, you all remember how ridiculously long some of those cords could get so that people could do light chores. Then wireless landlines became a thing (and I swear the audio quality seemed to drop) and as cellphones became more predominant they were almost phased out entirely - certainly phased out of necessity.

But now two decades or so later we're just in one spot all the time again. If we're not at work we're at home and if we're not cooking or cleaning we're probably just in one spot (likely at the computer or the TV). So it makes sense to me, although I do wonder how much of this is more of a micro trend than Gen Z bringing back landlines lol.

Bitflip ,

Might last a day or few if it's even true. Just like how they were all ditching smartphones for Nokias recently.

sunbeam60 ,

My wife insists on us having a landline. She doesn’t know she’s running a SIP phone over the internet connected to a SIP trunk that has a local area number. She’s happy. I get to kill our landline.

sqgl ,

In Australia both internet telephony and mobile are sometimes laggy and garbled. This never happened with landlines.

ArcaneSlime ,

Landlines also still work if cell and internet are out but power isn't in an emergency, which I'd bet is why she wants the landline lol.

miracleorange ,

Most available "landlines" nowadays are just VoIP anyway tho. It's why my dad got into ham radio.

ArcaneSlime ,

Huh, TIL.

sqgl ,

Landlines were self-powered. They did not require mains. But if the blackout was because a tree pulled down the power lines then there was a good chance it pulled down telephone wires too.

ArcaneSlime ,

cell and internet are out but power isn't

Though true, phones can also go down, I believe the point would be redundancy in case X works but Y does not. Though as someone else mentioned HAM is a better solution anyway, I need to finally get my technician's license.

HeartyBeast ,

There was a fashion about 30 years ago in the UK to convert old-style rotary phones so they worked with DTMF touch tones. I had a rather excellent original candle-stick style phone. Got lost in a move somewhere. Retro is always cool

IronKrill ,

Article and trend aside, I actually do miss landlines... I have to do the "boomer" thing of talking on speaker phone with my phone out in front of me because no matter what I do putting my flat cellphone up to my ear is just impossible to hear and exceedingly uncomfortable. I miss the ergonomics of a real phone.

thanks_shakey_snake ,

Have you considered Bluetooth (or wired) earbuds? I can't stand phone calls without them. Speakerphone makes me self-conscious in public and I can't help but get shouty, and I have the same problem as you do with face-smush mode. But my Bluetooth earbuds are exactly how I want my phone call experience to be.

sqgl ,

Speakerphone makes me self-conscious in public

I would feel self conscious if people looked at me thinking I was crazy, talking to myself.

thanks_shakey_snake ,

Lol I've experienced that too, especially if they can't see my ears.

exocrinous ,

Okay but what do I do if I'm not wearing my buds when I receive a surprise call?

thanks_shakey_snake ,

I just pop em in then answer. Or answer then pop em in.

exocrinous ,

I keep my buds in their own case in a special pocket of my backpack. If I'm sitting at my desk and get a call, I need to pause what I'm doing, stand up, extricate myself from my work corner, go to my bag, open the special pocket, take out the charging case, take out the buds, and put them in. And I have to do it either in the 10 seconds I have to answer the call, or one handed while having a conversation.

thanks_shakey_snake ,

Oh, mine live either in my pocket or on my desk in most cases, so it's usually pretty quick. You can also start the call without them and then switch to them after a minute or two once you've performed the necessary extraction procedure.

IronKrill ,

Unfortunately I've yet to find a pair of earbuds that doesn't fall out or hurt my ears (or both), Either my ears are shaped differently than the average or I have to spend more to find the right pair. I would use headphones instead, but they're hard to lug around and most work days I interact with customers so it's a no-go.

thanks_shakey_snake ,

Oh, that's too bad. There are band-style or hook-style versions that could maybe help with that, but yeah most of them are buds.

One thing I'll say is that when I used to wear wired buds, they would fall out all the time and I thought I just had weird-shaped ears or something... But when I got into wireless buds, I tried out a bunch of styles and found that without the cord, they stay in way more reliably. Wired ones would fall out when I turn my head or just walk 10 steps, but with wireless ones, I can shake my head or run or anything, and they stay in. I guess the weight/movement of the cord makes a big difference, at least for me.

IronKrill ,

I hadn't thought about the wire affecting it, that could well be! Thanks for the input, I may have to take another look at some buds.

SecretPancake ,
juliebean ,

wth. radiation proof? is this for visiting the chernobyl exclusion zone?

SecretPancake ,

Haha I guess it’s just a weird translation

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