I think our new TV might be surfing the Internet while we’re asleep.
We recently purchased a new flat-screen television, replacing an older model we bought just before our second-grader was born. It had a full, interesting life, watching everything from baby programs to murder mysteries in the years since we purchased it.
Toward its end, it started doing some strange things. It would always turn off, but it wouldn’t always turn back on. We resorted to leaving the TV on while turning off the cable box.
It started deciding to turn itself off, usually near the cliffhanger ending of a show. When it decided to turn itself off, that TV was out for the count.
Then, sometimes in the middle of the night, it would turn itself back on, as if someone on the Internet had ordered it to do so. I knew that was silly, though, since televisions aren’t connected to the Internet.
Then I plugged in our new television.
I’ve always considered myself pretty adept at new technology. I do well with computers, smartphones and gaming systems. I’m that nerdy guy you call when you want to move your entertainment system from one wall to another, who then makes your system doing something cool it didn’t do before.
Still, we’d never had an Internet-connected television. And it genuinely confused me when it demanded the Wi-Fi password.
I don’t want to be overly dramatic, but the only people who have our Wi-Fi password are people who live inside the house. I have, on occasion, punched it in for a guest in our home. Then I ask them to let me delete it before they leave.
It’s a hangover from the early days of Wi-Fi, when a resident in a neighboring apartment kept using my Internet without permission. It took a while before I realized the lights on the modem were going wild because someone else used my service without my permission.
I’ve gotten more protective of it, as you hear the countless stories of people having financial information swiped simply because they had a weak or nonexistent password on their routers. We have a shared drive with all our photographs attached to our router too, so we want to protect it.
I’m not sure why the television wants to look at those pictures. I’m really not certain why it had to have the Wi-Fi password before moving on to the next step, but it was even more stubborn than I am. I gave in and punched in our password.
Don’t get me wrong, I love that televisions have Internet capabilities now. We’re already taking advantage of movies and shows from Netflix or music from Pandora. I even think it’s kind of cool the way it can show the photos and videos on that shared drive.
Demanding the Internet before it even asked to autoprogram channels surprised me, though.
Ever since then, I’ve started having weird dreams about how the TV uses the Internet when we’re not watching it.
I envision it using Google to creep on what kind of people we are.
I suspect it’s looking for a psychological profile on people who watch taped “Snapped,” “Dateline” and “48 Hours” every night.
Perhaps it’s just online, looking for love with some compatible DVD player.
Whatever it’s doing, it’s doing it on my Wi-Fi connection.