Passive-Aggressive Notes via Wi-Fi Network Names

A semi-anonymous way of broadcasting how you feel.

The BBC did some investigative journalism last week and dredged up some Wi-Fi networks that are getting personal.

Where our grandparents might once have slipped a note under a door or even broached a subject face-to-face, the younger generation posts messages where we know the neighbors will see them every day: in the name of our WiFi networks.

"Predominantly, it's about noise. And sex. Well, noisy sex. That, and 'stealing' broadband," writes the British state news service.

""Stop Stealing My Paper!" begins one exchange, to which the reply taunts: "FYI, I Don't Read It I Just Throw It Away!" Another reads: ""You're music is annoying!" is followed by "Your grammar is more annoying!""

If you live in a rural area, it's possible you haven't even noticed this virtual call-and-response. But in some cities, where a computer can pick up dozens of Wi-Fi networks at any given point, it's become a forum for self-expression.

Just zoom in on this map created by OpenSignal, the crowd-sourced network mapping site, which located Obama-themed Wi-Fi networks this summer. There are endless geographical conclusions to be draw, but keep in mind that the data is not current and will not reflect the latest sentiment / news cycle. 

Map courtesy of OpenSignal.

About the Author

  • Henry Grabar is a freelance writer and a former fellow at CityLab. He lives in New York.