The fifth generation of wireless communications technologies; rumoured Covid-19 super-spreader.
Historically, the introduction of advanced technology has provoked old anxieties. The mass adoption of the microwave oven in the 1970s and 1980s led to stories of food being turned into carcinogenic lumps. In the 1990s and early 2000s, people worried that mobile phone use would lead to brain tumours. Now 5G is the source of our fear.
The theory that 5G could spread Covid-19 was quickly jumped on by parents desperate to divorce their teenagers from their iPhones during lockdown. Hundreds of Britons who secretly liked the idea of becoming social recluses in quarantine also found themselves partial to the idea that modern technology – including Zoom, WhatsApp and Twitter – was best avoided for the duration of the pandemic.
As the pandemic grew in scale, so too did the rumours about the viral load of 5G. Social media – the digital equivalent of an uncovered cough – spread the idea far and wide. Before long, Covid-19 had arrived in Britain. Not content with staying home to beat the virus, 5G masts were set on fire by members of the public in the dead of night.
Those who have experienced unexplained headaches and those who never quite finished their physics degree and now make a living playing online poker into the early hours joined forces online. Where did Covid-19 begin? They asked. And which nation state is a world leader in the development of 5G? Using the deductive power of ‘fevered imagination’ to wrestle back a sense of control, they have concluded that we are the victim of a secret geopolitical plot.
5G technology may not spread Coronavirus, but it can lead to the spread of unfounded fear.