Monday, April 14, 2008

Wireless – The Next Big Tobacco

A totally paranoid conspiracy theory, or the truth we already know and simply choose to suppress back into that little space deep within our psyches where we tell ourselves the government would never let us hurt ourselves, especially in the name of convenience or big business?

I’m not one to lie so my guess is our cool, techy, gadget-filled, wireless world of constant communication is slowly killing us, and not just from the information overload. I truly believe just like big tobacco buried the truth decades ago about the addictive/harmful qualities of nicotine and tobacco, and what we all told ourselves to rationalize our own addictions, the same is happening again, only this time it’s companies like Apple, Verizon, AT&T, MCI, Comcast, Microsoft, Netgear, and Cisco at the helm.

I’m not an engineer or a scientist, and I can’t explain exactly how all these things work, but I believe we’re all being bombarded 24/7 by wireless microwave technology – cell phones, cordless phones, blackberries, digital and satellite TV and radio, Wi-Fi (internet hotspots, our own home wireless networks), even infrared remotes. And we keep adding the devices, networks and features to our arsenal of gotta-haves.

Just because we can’t see it or feel it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t affect us. I think of the technician who drops a 15-pound lead vest on us for x-rays (even dental), and physically leaves the room, often quickly, to get behind an additional shield before clicking the button. Are they crouching when they click? I bet they even squint a little. Remember the warning signs they used to post on microwave ovens for anyone with a pacemaker (stand back at least three feet) – we’d put our food in them and then leave the room, just like the techs.

When I think of our wireless world today, I imagine a jewel thief who sprays an aerosol fog to reveal an intricate laser-guided alarm system that lights up like brilliant strings in Jacob’s ladder, and we’re standing in center of the web.

By the time the true, long-term studies are released to the public, and the direct link to the meteoric rise of cancers like brain and bone marrow is established, it will be too late because we won’t care. OK, we’ll care, but we’ll be more concerned about losing our conveniences. Hell, it’s already too late.

The data will verify the cancer link just like they did for smoking and lung cancer, and we’ll resist it, refute it, search for other possible factors, ignore it or ultimately dismiss it. How many studies did we really need to tell us inhaling burning paper and chemically treated tobacco into our lungs was harmful? How many studies will we need to tell us working all day long in supercharged environments with powerful wireless networks, PCs and laptops isn’t healthy? Or wearing microwave receivers on our hips (pockets or purses) and holding them to our temples for 1,000 minutes per month (and unlimited nights and weekends) isn’t the safest thing to do? And we buy them for our kids.

Maybe the line should start forming here for the class action suit for second-hand wi-frying.

No one needs a cell phone, or total disconnected access. If you want to call someone, you can use a landline or a pay phone (if you can find one). But when’s the last time you pulled the car over and dialed a 10-digit number by hand that wasn’t stored in your device’s directory. And we could plug into wired docks for internet/LAN access, but I know no one wants to regress. And if I ever suggested these actions in the workplace, I’d be ridiculed and ignored.

And I’m not excluding myself from those who can’t live without wireless. I’ve got all the gadgets too, and a full list of rationalizations. The question I have to ask myself is if I want to live a shorter, much more convenient, adult life, or start changing my dependencies now?

Do I have the facts or proof or studies? No. I may just be paranoid and technically uninformed. Even if I did, would you believe me?

Just food for thought. Can you hear me now? Will you hear me then?

Postscript. I didn't say my idea was original. Here are a bevy of links after a quick Google search:

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