It is important for everyone to express their creativity and sense of humor. But does asserting your individuality really need to involve giving your wifi network a wacky name? And do you really need to call it "FBI SURVEILLANCE VAN?" You're freaking me out.
17-year-old Florida resident Jared Cano was arrested Tuesday for attempting to blow up his high school. It's a generally disturbing story, but one bizarre detail in particular made my hair stand on end. Two days before he was arrested Cano posted on his Facebook that his friend had tried to connect to a wireless network and spied a wifi network named "FBI_SURVEILLANCE_VAN." He was understandably creeped out, as you can see in the screenshot above.
Is the FBI really so dumb that they gave themselves away to a mark like this? Unless Inspector Clouseau has taken over for Robert Mueller, this was not a surveillance van, but a joke by some neighbor. Naming your wifi network after a surveillance van is such a common gag that Mashable included it on a list of "best wifi names". The butt of the joke this time happened to be a guy who was at that moment scheming about how to one-up the Columbine massacre. All a strange coincidence!
But. But! Last month I was working at my favorite coffee shop. When I tried to sign onto a wifi network, the only one open was called "FBI monitoring van # 237B." I will admit that for a few seconds I fell for it. I looked around at the graphic designers quietly tapping at their Macbooks: Were one of these guys designing T-shirt logos for the Russian mob?
Then my stomach dropped: The feds were after me. I regularly talk to shady characters for my job: hackers, cyberstalkers, Richard Lawson. I must have gone too deep, crossed an invisible line. I could see the tagline of the inevitable movie: "He was just a blogger chasing a story, until he became the story." Eventually I realized "FBI monitoring van" was just a dumb joke by a coffee shop locked in North Brooklyn's quirkiness arms race.
Please, do not name your wifi network FBI SURVEILLANCE VAN, or SECRET SERVICE SPY DRONE or anything like that. When I read that story about the teen bomber's Facebook post yesterday, the narcissistic paranoia flooded back. Maybe there was something to that wifi network. I ordered 500 "Free Adrian" t-shirts on CafePress. Now I have to come to grips all over again with the fact that nobody actually gives a shit about me.