In our modern world, the sky above us and the world around us is like a tapestry woven with countless threads of electromagnetic signals shooting back and forth. Put some rabbit ears on top of your TV and you magically capture programming. The phone in your pocket constantly snags signals blasted from towers nearby you. Your house and office are blanketed with wi-fi from myriad sources. Even your toaster is putting off an electromagnetic field.
For electrosensitive individuals, that’s a serious health problem. Supposedly. To technophobes, the entirety of modern electronics (along with all of the signals pulsing through the airwaves) are a cause for concern that is a matter of literal life or death. Medical professionals tend to disagree with claims that electromagnetic fields can cause a host of illnesses – from headaches to cancer – but it’s hard to write off an ailment claimed by millions of people.
Motherboard met with some folks in the UK who suffer from electromagnetic hypersensitivity to learn more about their condition and the occasionally extreme methods they take to protect themselves.
Sarah Dacre ditched city life for as isolated a country location as she could find. She’s gone as far as to toss out her appliances and sheath her windows in metallic material designed to hide submarines from radar.
Andrew Goldsworthy is a former biology lecturer at a renowned English university. He became so positive that electromagnetic radiation was causing a range of ailments, including diabetes and obesity, that he left his position to become a scientific adviser to Electrosensitivity UK, a charity pledged with supporting electrosensitivity sufferers.
For the vast number of skeptics, electrosensitivity seems like nothing more than frivolous paranoia. But sufferers provide a portrait of an interesting modern paradox: when our entire planet’s dependence on electronics increases daily, what does it mean if technology turns out to be unhealthy?