Back in the spring of 2014, Parks Canada announced it planned to install WiFi services in a number of national parks across the country.
From coast to coast nature lovers chimed in to decry the desecration of the Canadian wilderness. Canada was the first country in the worldto establish a national park service, and now it was going to be one of the first countries to contaminate those undeveloped lakes and mountain ranges with the incessant presence of social media, emails, texts and, shudder, memes. Could visitors not even spend a few days in the pristine back country without posting clifftop selfies? Was humanity so addicted to its devices? What about those who wanted to spend time in the woods precisely because they needed to distance themselves from the omnipresence of, well, everybody else?
Parks Canada clarified that it wasn't about to put hotspots on mountaintops or remote lake-shores. The backcountry would remain WiFi-free. Free WiFi on the other hand, would be installed in a few visitor centers as an experiment. It was part of a strategy to lure more millennials to the great outdoors [source: Parks Canada].
The hullabaloo died down. Parks Canada quietly installed the hotspots, and no more has been said about the matter. It's too early to say whether the youth are playing into the strategy or not.
In the U.S., national parks remain off limits to WiFi, but every other kind of park seems to have fully succumbed. You could send a video feed of yourself walking through Central Park in NYC live, if that were in any way interesting. And from California to South Carolina, from Texas to Ohio, state parks have gone hog-wild for free wireless connectivity.