What does it take to disconnect?
What if WiFi was a killer? Wireless networks are the connectivity tissue of modern life but some claim electromagnetic radiation has devastated their health. Such people seek relief by taking refuge in the wilderness where there is no wireless littering the airwaves. And with the internet of things taking over every home and plans for total connectivity, their means of escape are diminishing. Revelatory and thought provoking.
In a remote Swedish forest, Per Segerbäck has forged a home away from the buzz of everyday life. But life in seclusion has its own challenges: “If you want to get away from the towers, you have to move somewhere where people don't live, and usually it's places like this with snakes, and ticks and angry insects that try to eat you”. Per has lived this way for years. When he first moved to the forest it was in a frantic attempt to remedy his debilitating symptoms. “My children were very upset and sad that I had to leave my home in such a rush”, he recounts. “It was a very tough time.”
But for Per and other sufferers of EHS, the illness portends a darker future for us all. “We are like the canaries in the coal mine”, says Per. Anouk De Bont walks through the streets of Weesp in the Netherlands with her two young children. They reach a transmission tower and stop dead in their tracks. “What do we want this tower to do?” she asks. The children answer in unison: “Go away!”At home Anouk uses pen and paper to put her concerns into writing: “My children are growing up in a world with more and more wireless devices. Radiation levels are increasing. At friends’ houses, at school. It's everywhere”.
But EHS sufferers live in a world that pays no notice. With little action taken to alleviate their pain and nowhere else to go, exile is the only answer. At the United States National Radio Quiet Zone, the world’s largest community of EHS sufferers has developed as the unremitting growth of wireless technology has driven more and more people from their homes. Residents of the Radio Quiet Zone still dream of a world that has space for people like them. “Probably more than anything, I miss being able to go out into the world, travel, go into any building and not hurt”, says one woman.
Another resident puts it more bluntly: “If they're going to take over the world with their technology, they need to provide spaces for us. When I walk into a restaurant, it hurts me to walk in there, because there's Wi-Fi. Where are my rights? Where are our rights? This is our world, too.”
Reviews and More
“Ubiquity gets at something unsettling about the way we live now” – Hot Docs
"a truly important film... a potent warning sign for excessive use of technologies" – Get Reel Movies
Hot Docs - Official Selection