Waiting out train delays is a little less irritating these days, now that New Yorkers have access to free internet service in the subway. Since January 9, all 281 underground MTA stations across NYC have been fully outfitted with Wi-Fi and cell phone coverage. Using the new service is easy: simply log-on to the Transit Wireless Wi-Fi network and hit “connect.” There is no fee and no time limit, though coverage applies only within the stations themselves -- the signal quickly fades once your train gets going.
Say what you will about 2017 so far, but at least this is the year when you can live-tweet about the merry band of weirdos you're huddled uncomfortably close to instead of muttering with rage at the fact that you're going to be an hour late for work.
As with every privilege, though, it's important to set some ground rules to ensure it's a pleasant experience for everyone. So, without further ado, here are a few quick and dirty suggestions on what not to do while connected underground.
Don't wreck everyone's commute with mindless phone chatter
To prevent the jam-packed underground steel tube from devolving into some dystopian hellscape consumed by a cacophony of inane gossip and "can you you hear me?!?," please refrain from yakking on the phone whenever you feel the urge. Obviously, if it's an emergency or something, that's different, but please spare us all from having to listen to you loudly recap last night's Bachelor episode for your nana.
Don't get too transfixed, you bumbling underground zombie
Now that we're tempted to stare down at our screens even more than we already do, please remember not to blindly amble head-down on the platform, especially as a train's approaching, lest you stumble and fall, or worse, bump someone and cause them to. Also, try to periodically look up from Snapchat stories to scope out the situation in your car and make sure you're not violating any age-old cardinal rules.
Don't look at porn on the goddamn subway!
Although this should be common sense, it bears mentioning that you absolutely, 100% should not watch porn on the subway. This is non-negotiable. New Yorkers may proudly consider themselves unfazed, or perhaps even invigorated, by the nasty stuff they see every day, but that doesn't mean they should be subjected to watching you browse your favorite XTube channel during rush hour. Also, please wait until you get home to self-diagnose ailments and/or questionable moles on WebMD. We really don't want to see that, either.
Don't let The Man seize your last place of refuge
One of the unintended consequences of getting cell service underground is that we lose that brief and wondrous window of respite during which we once couldn't be bothered by work email. It also means that instead, we may be expected to get a jump on our workday before it even begins, and past when it's over. However, that can only happen if we allow it to become normal behavior. So, please abstain from work emails en route to and from the office. Let's take a cue from France and other wise first-world countries and start disconnecting when we aren't on the clock. Cool? Cool.
Don't let hackers pick your virtual pocket on the platform
This is less a point of etiquette and more a way protecting yourself from compromising your online privacy. The trouble with any open public Wi-Fi network is that would-be hackers can easily poach your personal info if you're not careful. New York Magazine has an excellent primer on best practices when it comes to browsing, but if you remember one thing, have it be this: Only visit sites that encrypt the data that you send to it. In short, feel free to visit any site whose URL is preceded by "https://" and avoid those preceded by "http://".
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