WASHINGTON, DC, August 6, 2012 - Nowadays, it seems like almost every other household and business has its own wireless network. Just turn on your phone or laptop at a café or even in your own home, and up pops a list of available networks.
Many people still use the name that came with their router: Netgear34463, Belkin, or a series of numbers and letters. Those who have chosen to personalize their networks mostly go with purely utilitarian monikers: John Smith’s Network, Anderson Family, Apartment 302. Some express their owners’ hobbies and likes: Love to Surf, Land of Disco, Space Age Bachelor Pad, or Beagle House.
More recently people have begun using their network names to express themselves and communicate with their neighbors in a whole new way. Most names are funny, some are clever, a few are scary, and others are just downright mean.
Humor and attempts at humor abound in network naming, ranging from the immature, (.)(.) Boobies, to the witty, Abraham Linksys. Even though most names tend to be creative and unique there are several Series of Tubes, Network, and Internet. Others go for a quick laugh: Router I hardly know her, Don’tYouWishYourWifiWasHotLikeMe, SUPERthanksforasking, and the ever-popular reference to Skynet.
Some try to help people connect (Use this one Mom), but a far greater number of network names are aimed at keeping people out. It seems many network owners are concerned with others trying to sneak a free surf on their dime. There are several No free Wi-Fi for you, and a few Get off my LAN. Some try to confuse potential freeloaders, like 404 Network Unavailable, Network Not Found, Bad Error: Disconnect, and Cant Touch This. Others sound a little more threatening, like Connect for Identity Theft, H1N1, AllYourBandwithBelongtoUS, and Drop it like its HotSpot. Some try different deterrents. Government surveillance references are common. There is Police surveillance van numbers 1 through 9 and several FBI surveillance vans.
Beyond the threat of someone trying to steal their Internet connection, however, some people want to communicate on a deeper level like PlzBringVodkaToApt302, or Saturday NightPartyinApt709. Others make odd offers like Will connect for beer or Naked Pics of Your Girlfriend.
Many people use their network name to say things they wouldn’t say to their neighbors’ faces like the very direct My Neighbors Suck, and YerBabyIsReallyUgly. Others clearly want to send a targeted message, GetOffMyLawn, Pick up your dog *@$%, StopCookingIndianFood, Caitlin stop using our internet, and Please no more grindcore at 3am. Some are scary. IveSeenYouNaked and IWatchYouSleep give me the creeps.
People who have more than one router can let their imaginations soar, there is Shut your dog up, followed by Or I will call the cops. Some names unite neighbors toward a shared goal. One list I found had one network named notfreesogetstuffed, and right below it: this is not free either.
Other names just demand a reaction, like Who Farted and I did. Honesty is important among neighbors. Some suggest intriguing local conflicts: Give our F-ing Flamingos Back, and, from a nice neighbor in response: F- Your Flamingos. There’s definitely a story there, and I’ll bet it started before the flamingos went missing.
Now that I’m aware of this fascinating new form of communication, I catch myself occasionally checking the available networks list on my phone when I am bored, standing in line, or waiting for someone. In my mind, it adds a new layer of flavor to a neighborhood and gives you a tiny peek at what the people that live and work around it are like.
In DC, most network names tend to be pretty boring. There is a weird abundance of names with poo poo in them. Is there a story here? Once in a while, however, even in DC, your available networks list delivers a gem that will give you a good laugh.
Network names are likely to get more interesting as we get more connected, or at least I hope so. Privacy and other legal issues are sure to pop up. In the meantime, however, you can give your network any name you want, so why not go ahead and let your imagination take flight? Say something to a neighbor, start a conversation, make someone laugh.
Here is an easy, step-by-step guide on how to change your network name: http://www.wikihow.com/Change-the-Name-of-a-Wireless-Network
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