Invisible rays are all around us, and most of us never even notice. In today’s technology-saturated world, it’s hard to imagine living life without a wireless connection. But in one American town, wireless is actually illegal. Green Bank, West Virginia is a small town located in the United States’ National Radio Quiet Zone. The Quiet Zone is a 13,000 square mile area that protects two telescopes from any radio or wireless signal interference. That means no Wi-Fi, no cell phones, no Bluetooth, no microwave ovens, no TV, and even no radio is allowed in this area.
While many of us would shudder at the thought of pulling the plug on our cell phones, laptops, and televisions, the wireless ban has attracted people who suffer from electromagnetic hypersensitivity. Many of these people have decided to live in the town to get relief from their condition, which causes severe headaches, nausea, pain and heart problems.
Diane Schou is one of these people with electromagnetic hypersensitivity. In 2003, after a new cell-phone tower was installed near her home in Iowa, Diane began to experience an onslaught of negative symptoms. First came heart palpitations, then fatigue, nausea and migraines. After learning about electromagnetic hypersensitivity, Schou set off on a journey across the United States, looking for a place where she could escape wireless signals. When a park ranger told her about Green Bank, Schou went out on a limb and moved to the town, and she hasn’t looked back. In Green Bank, she says, she can finally live a life free of pain.
Living in Green Bank is no easy feat, Schou says. Coming to the town is a culture shock, and adjusting to a world with little technology beyond electric lights and heating is hard for many. But for people suffering from electromagnetic sensitivity, it is one of the only places where they can find relief. Today, the town has become a gathering place for a few dozen electrosensitives from around the United States.
While most of us couldn’t imagine life in Green Bank, for the electrosensitives who live there, it’s hard to imagine life outside of it. How long could you survive without all of the conveniences of modern technology?