Back in the 1990’s, the first warnings appeared that mobile phones could be damaging to our health. Now, over twenty years and thousands of scientific studies later, a turning-point is coming slowly but surely into sight. A Wifi-ban in crèches in France, the same applied to nursery-schools on Cyprus, an emotional plea from the former director-general of the World Health Organisation – who is a doctor, herself - saying that GSM usage does involve a potential health risk... Just ask the people around you; more and more often you hear the opinion that electromagnetic radiation can affect you. However, in The Netherlands, the government’s official standpoint is that electromagnetic fields are not harmful. A large part of the population also regards the possibility of any dangers as mere fairy-tales. Which, I think, has to do with the human tendency to deny anything that doesn’t fit in with their preferred view of the world around them.
Even I fell into this ‘denial-trap’. For years I tried to ignore the influence radio-emissions had on my life. While the complaints I had were only increasing; feelings of stress and, during the day, often problems with excessive tiredness. Later on began the losses of concentration and after half-an-hour on a computer I would be forced to stop in order to get my energy back. Despite this it still took five years before I dared to admit to myself that the problem was all those nice, wireless gadgets. Only when the problems had become so severe that I had to move to a tent in a remote countryside area, then I finally started to look for a solution. Why hadn’t I accepted the problem of electromagnetic radiation earlier? Was it really necessary that I had to end up in a tent first?
I asked myself these questions whilst sitting outside an Amsterdam café in 2004. When I was living in the tent I had been given a prototype of the personalFloww and could start to enjoy the freedom of being able to visit the city again. It became clear to me that I hadn’t earlier ‘dared to realise’. When I – back in 1998 – initially made the connection between my problems and the computer I just stuck my head in the sand. Expecting that the government would warn us - or that, at least, some scientists or doctors would raise an alarm. Apparently I could not, at first, dare to face the facts. I didn’t dare to become aware of this ‘inconvenient truth’.
Nowadays I can see this same denial on a worldwide level and it begs for a comparison with the ongoing climate discussion. In a Dutch newspaper I read an interview with Al Gore, who gave the following clear answer to the question of how he regarded those who refuted the changing of the world climate: “You often hear: it is stupid ignorance or arrogance. I don’t think that these are the only possibilities. As human beings we are susceptible to what psychologists call ‘denial’. A variant of this is the ‘principle of system-confirmation’. We all have the need to trust that the wider structures of the world in which we live in are correct. If somebody brings these basic beliefs into doubt - that makes us scared.”
We all know that fear is a bad advisor. But to be able to see your own fears or resistance requires a degree of openness and self-reflection. Otherwise the increasing levels of the problem act as a crowbar and prise your resistance away. Your views get opened up – but it’s a long and painful road.
That is why I suffered for five years before I started to intensively study the problem of EMR. What surprised me the most was that an enormous amount of research had already been carried out, also into the effects on our health. I realised that EMR was a worldwide phenomenon, present in every home, every office and in every school. But I had also experienced the fact that this didn’t necessarily mean that it was a problem. Because it had disappeared when I dared to face it. That is what I believe is being asked of us now; we must consciously deal with our mobile phones and tablets. To do so, we will need some openness and courage, but my experience is that the solutions eventually just arrive by themselves.
I hope, hereby, that governments, scientists, businesses and everybody can find sufficient courage to face reality. Then we can all start working together on a solution. Worldwide. That’s why: Dare to realise!