Every Christmas, there seems to be one hot-ticket item that everyone asks for. Remember the Tickle Me Elmo year? Or that time people practically killed each other over Furbies? Well, this year, the thing everyone wanted to see under the tree was a little less furry and a little more sleek. AirPods were the coveted gift this Christmas season.
And some people probably got them. Some people probably opened that little box to see an official pair of Apple AirPods from the ones they love. But those people aren't the focus of this story. This story is about all those champs out there who didn't get AirPods but did get something resembling them. The people who opened "Smart Pods," "Soulja Pods," and other knock-off wireless headphone brands and smiled through the pain.
This seemed to be a popular experience on Twitter this year. Someone asked for AirPods and got the next cheapest thing. So many people — and I mean so many — posted something very similar to this. And look, I get it. I am extremely used to getting off-brand presents for the holidays. That was pretty much my entire youth.
I was never one to hand out gift lists, but when I was a kid, my grandparents took Hanukkah very seriously. They must have gone to the stores, asked what was popular that year, and then bought the cheaper versions for my siblings and me.
Did we get Razor scooters? No. But we got scooters that resembled Razor scooters. Mine was entirely metallic pink, and you know what? It worked just like a razor scooter...for the most part. Did we get iPods when they first came out? Not a chance! But I did get an MP3 player. It was dark gray, had an oblong touchpad instead of a circular control panel, and you know what? I used the crap out of it for years, until eventually, I upgraded to an iPod Mini (after iPod Minis were so yesterday, of course).
So I get it. It can be slightly disappointing to be the person who never gets the real thing. But for the most part, those knock-offs, as long as they're not the cheapest of the cheap, work as well as the real ones, especially these days. Not to mention, AirPods are extremely expensive for a pair of tiny earbuds that are super easy to lose.
I honestly don't know how anyone keeps track of their AirPods. They've even started selling straps to keep your AirPods together, which is just making them wired again!!! It's preposterous! So I totally understand why the gift giver might not have been able to justify coughing up over $150 for a pair of earbuds.
Most of these wireless earbuds probably work fine. And sure, they're not AirPods. But they're small and white and from a distance, no one will know the difference (if that's the kind of thing that's important to you). Lots of people crashed the comment sections of these tweets to admonish these people for complaining about receiving a gift, and I get that side of it. I really do.
But I also think these were mostly posted in a mostly jokey manner. Hey, at least these people got a pair of wireless headphones, right? They will pair with their phone and let them listen to music without the fear of tugging the earbud out of their ear but with the fear of the earbud falling out of your ear, never to be seen again. In this way, they really are getting the whole experience of the AirPod without the major disappointment when they eventually completely lose track of them.
I think especially if you're a kid, it can be slightly disappointing to get off-brand AirPods, but it's a good lesson in being realistic. AirPods are wildly expensive for what they are. And at least they got a pair of headphones, unlike these poor girls, who thought they were getting AirPods but got socks instead.
Merry Christmas, everybody. Be grateful that you got any presents at all, and use the knock-off AirPods. They might surprise you. Sometimes I dream about that weird, off-brand MP3 player. I have no idea what it was, but it worked like a charm, rarely crashed, and honestly, it made me feel like I was kind of special for having something different.