Plugging into Infrastructures with Happy Plugs Headphones

Abstract

Happy Plugs headphones are a global object—they are designed in Sweden, manufactured in China, and exported to various countries the world over. Through the slogan “What color are you today?®” the Swedish company Happy Plugs frames the headphones within an economic infrastructure that is centred on ideologies about individualism and practices of constructing one’s identity. Through this marketing strategy, vision becomes the primary sense that provokes the product’s purchase and over-consumption; sound becomes secondary to style, function becomes eclipsed by fashion. As such, the headphones shift from being a means to an end (accessibility to music/sound) to becoming an end in itself (a visual commodity). Furthermore, potential growth for the company is tied up with their ability to produce a piece of technology that heavily depends on its allure as an accessory. Yet, alongside being an accessory, headphones are also protective prosthetics. As a kind of “Do Not Disturb” sign, headphones can offer some people, often women, a sense of temporary security in public. Happy Plugs headphones are not just an object with which we can access the music in mp3 players and smartphones, they also help us plug into myriad infrastructures.

https://doi.org/10.25071/2292-6739.103
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