Recently, my mother visited and told me she was ready to have a smart phone. I explained that if you have a smart phone, you need a data plan for your data streaming needs. Otherwise, the alternative is Wi-Fi. With Wi-Fi you’re covered and don’t need to worry about your data plan.
She nodded in satisfaction, until…until she asked, Well, what is Wi-Fi?
“Wi-Fi? Oh, well, it comes out of that silver box,” I said, pointing to the corner. “And, you can get it at Starbucks.”
“Hmm,” she said.
She seemed displeased with my answer. I can’t imagine why. It seemed plenty good enough to me. Was she seeking something more tech-savvy?
I wondered if anyone else had a better answer to satisfy her curiosity, so I asked around. After all, Wi-Fi is necessary for our survival.
When we need it, we expect it to be there. If it’s something so critical to the functioning of daily lives, certainly someone can explain it.
My question to my sample was simple:
What is Wi-Fi and can you please explain it?
Here’s what I got. Occupations and ages follow.
My Dad (77)
Why? Is it anything like hi-fi?
Ha ha. Good one!
Professor of Political Science, 45
It is the electronic space in which we operate. A specific broadcast is signaled to your phone from the wireless server.
IT Professional, 51
Wireless is configured to go through wireless and then you type in a security code.
Me: How does it work?
It just works. You can’t see it; it’s invisible.
Instructional Designer, 52
It means wireless. Wireless fiber optics. Hell, if I know how it works.
It’s a wireless connection. The computer sends out a signal by satellite.
Kids, ages 7-10
I have no idea.
Internet connection wireless. A radio tower or satellite gives you a signal.
Comic Book Store Employee (late twenties)
If helps you get the Internet, right? Does anything else matter?
Wireless fidelity means Internet without land lines.
Me: And, then how?…Hello.
Why don’t I just ask the experts? What do you know, I just happened to bump into the AT&T service rep in my neighborhood. They love talking about Wi-Fi. Here’s what the rep had to say:
Wi-Fi is your wireless Internet connection. The router gives off a wireless Internet connection for a wireless enabled device to pick up a connection.
Uh, huh…I think I’m really getting it now.
Should my mother ask for an explanation, I have a newly defined sense of Wi-Fi, which I’ll share with you now, because I know you can’t go another day without knowing. (Oh, ,and I’ve added a couple of flourishes.)
Wi-Fi is this:
We have this box in the corner, and it hooks into something that pulses beneath us underground (fiber optics) and then shoots up into the satellites and beams back down to Earth, wrapping around us in electrical, sparkling, invisible currents, allowing Internet routers to enable other wireless devices to join in wireless fidelity, and we can get it at Starbucks or anywhere we damn well need it, otherwise we’ll be extremely sad, anxious, and incomplete. We get it, use it, and have it when we want it, and then feel warm and fuzzy all over.
That’s all you really need to know…like you can explain it any better. You’re going to Google it now, aren’t you? Rest assured, this is the best definition you’ll find. Oh, you’re welcome. It was my pleasure.