Since the internet was born, and the very first email sent, people have been sharing wild theories across the world wide web. Spooky stories, Nigerian princes, conspiracy theories – everything is possible on the information super highway!
Between these tall tales and suspicious scams lies something more insidious: the internet myth. A whisper heard around the world, a solution to any problem provided by the wisdom of the digital masses.
From what to do if your phone gets wet, or whether or not you can leave your laptop plugged in 24/7, these myths have passed down through generations of internet users to become just something that everyone knows.
Surely no one actually believes these myths right? They’re so clearly fabricated, who could take them seriously? It’s time to put them to the test! If millions of people around the world believe in them, maybe there is a nugget of truth to be found.
Let’s find out!
Putting a wifi device in a pot increases the signal strength
Tired of waiting for websites to load? Netflix stuck on buffering? Constantly dropping out of zoom calls? You might need to upgrade to a stronger internet connection! But what if you’re already on the best plan available in your area? How can you improve the quality of your connection without having to spend more money?
Luckily, the internet has plenty of answers for you. Some are obvious: such as placing your wifi device in a more central location in your house or switching to a wired network. Others definitely fall into the “myth” category, and chief among these is the “pot” theory.
The logic behind this myth is simple: wifi moves through your house in waves, moving out from your device in 360 degrees and bouncing off walls to slowly “fill” your entire home. However, you likely don’t need your wifi to cover every corner of every room, so can you “shape” the waves to better concentrate the signal?
Turns out that yes, you can use certain surfaces like metal pots and pans to “bounce” the signal in the direction you want. While this may not improve the actual speed of your connection, it is likely to improve stability, which can make your internet experience much more reliable and enjoyable.
If your phone gets wet, dry it out safely in a bowl of rice
Smart phones and water are a terrible combination – as anyone who has gotten a little too unlucky in a bathroom can tell you. But whether you’ve dropped your phone into a toilet, splashed it while washing the dishes, or been caught out in a rain storm, the internet has a quick, simply solution to save your device: put it in rice.
The general idea behind this advice is that the rice will absorb the water, drawing it out of your phone before it can damage the circuitry. Rice is very absorbent after all, so it’s easy to see why this myth would gain popularity in a “just common sense” kind of thinking.
Sadly putting your phone in rice doesn’t help, and in some cases may even make the situation worse. Rice is dusty, and leaving your phone in rice can introduce small particles that can further damage the electronics. It’s also not any better or faster at drying your phone than a warm room.
The real danger to a drenched phone is not the water, but electricity. While no phone is fully waterproof, most are water resistant – so if you turn your phone off immediately you might be able to salvage it by getting it dried professionally.
Leaving your laptop plugged in all the time will lower your battery life
Verdict: It’s complicated
There’s no worse way to start a work day than sitting down at your desk and opening up your laptop only to find the battery is flat! It’s this fear that drives many of us to leave our laptops plugged in whenever it’s on our desk, and this action has led to a very common myth: leaving your laptop plugged in all the time will lower the battery life.
No one wants to ruin their expensive devices, and surely it’s better safe than sorry, so following this myth feels a bit of a no-brainer. Leaving your laptop on charge might be more convenient, but is it really worth the risk?
Well actually, it’s a bit more complicated that the myth would have you believe. Firstly – the capacity of a battery goes down over time, no matter what you do. This means that after a while, your laptop battery will “die” and you’ll need to get a new one. Certain things will make your battery capacity degrade faster, and leaving you laptop on charge all the time might be one of those things.
This is because each battery has a limited number of charge cycles before it will start to fail: the more cycles you put the battery through, the more wore-down it will become. There’s no way to never charge your laptop battery, so there is no way to prevent this type of damage over time.
However, leaving your laptop plugged in may make it worse. If you use you laptop when it is on charge, the battery will drop below 100% and immediately start charging again – essentially running multiple charge cycles while you work.
This is why many vendors such as Apple, HP and Asus recommend keeping your battery at 50-80% of charge, and have tools which will let you set your laptop to only charge to 80/90% full. Alternatively, if you are constantly using your laptop, taking it off charge at 100% and placing it back on charge when you are done is completely safe.
If you leave your laptop open, people can access your webcam to spy into your room
With video conferencing becoming such a huge part of the modern workday, many people have begun using the webcams in their laptops for the first time ever. Even if you’re new to webcams though, you may have already heard the myth of people hacking into your webcam and being able to “spy” into your room.
It sounds like science fiction, something you’d expect to see in the new Matrix sequel. Unfortunately, it is very possible for hackers to access your webcam without you even knowing. This attack is known as camfecting, which involves taking control of the webcam remotely and disabling the “on” light so that the user cannot tell that the camera is on.
Luckily there is a quick and easy way to stop this hack in its tracks: turn off your laptop. The webcam cannot be activated while the laptop is off, so rather than leaving your laptop is rest or sleep mode, close the lid and power down!
For extra security while using your laptop, another method is to simply cover the webcam. You can find specific hardware for this task (some laptops even have built in covers), but a small piece of tape or cloth will achieve the same result and still be easily removed when you need to jump on a conference call.
What internet myths have you heard?
That’s 4 common internet myths put to the test, but it’s far from an exhaustive list. Have you heard these myths before? Were you surprised at our results? What other internet myths have you heard? Share your thoughts with us and join the conversation over at facebook.com/upgradetorise.