Technophobes detest modern conveniences like telephones, televisions and computers. To the electrophobes, being anywhere near these machines is a matter of life and death.
According to medical professionals, claims of electrosensitivity are little more than paranoia. As a phenomenon, well, it's hard to argue with the millions of people – many of them in Europe – who say they suffer headaches, depression, nausea, rashes and other symptoms when they get too close to cellphones or other sources of electromagnetic frequencies. These self-diagnosed people have formed support groups, launched newsletters and websites, and sought to rid all electromagnetic radiation from their lives. A band of electrophobe "refugees" has even moved to a valley in southern France to avoid radiation.
Last year, Motherboard met a couple of sufferers of electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS), in the UK to better understand the controversial condition and learn their methods for survival.
Sarah Dacre fled the city, where she had would only leave her home wearing a beekeeper-like veil, and now does her best to avoid cellphone towers in the English countryside. Andrew Goldsworthy is so sure that conditions like diabetes, obesity and even cancer can be attributed to electromagnetic radiation that he abandoned his post as a lecturer in biology at one of Britain's top universities to become scientific advisor to Electrosensitivity UK, a charity established to support sufferers of EHS.
The World Health Organization, like every other major medical association that has examined the condition, has concluded that there is no significant evidence that exposure to electromagnetic fields can cause any of the symptoms that Dacre and Goldsworthy describe.
But among the phenomenon's victims are Gro Harlem Brundtland, the former director-general of the WHO. In 2002, she told the BBC that she prohibited cellphones from her office because the radiation was giving her headaches.