The Truth About 5G's Impact On The Pandemic

There's this old truism that magic is just science we don't understand, and by that metric, cell phones are, to most people, magic. Odds are, at this moment, you have an electric rectangle in your pocket that, through invisible means, picks up information from outer space and turns it into not just episodes of Justified, but also messages from your dad asking if you've finished watching Justified yet. And because this technology is essentially wizardry, it's been met with a double scoop of conspiracy theories over the years. Fears of cancer-causing radiation and universal government tracking have been making the rounds since the days of car phones. As reported by Scientific American, there was even a widespread hypothesis that mobile devices were an elaborate form of mind control, although there's been little evidence of this being the case. On an unrelated note, all glory to the Hypnotoad.

Concerned citizens have been blaming new technology for crises since day one. According to the BBC, around 400 BC, people claimed that the written word would dull the human memory. In the 19th century, infertility was blamed on the dangerously high speeds inherent in traveling on newfangled locomotives. In Dorothy Nelkin and Sander Gilman's 1988 paper "Placing Blame for Diseases," they pointed out that AIDS was explained by Soviet scientists as a result of genetic engineering by American CDC scientists.

No really, it doesn't exist

So when 5G started rolling out, there was a hubbub. It started out scattershot: the New York Times reported in 2019 that claims about potential adverse effects ran the gamut from run-of-the-mill cancers to "infertility, autism, heart tumors and Alzheimer's disease."

These claims found focus during the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020. Conspiracy theorists around the world took to their message boards of choice, making all sorts of claims. Some said that the wavelength used by 5G networks was designed to incapacitate the human immune system, others that the towers themselves were being used to transmit the disease. Like flat earth theorists, anti-vaccination advocates, and the chemtrail averse, proponents of the "5G=Bad" school of thought are divided as to what it is that makes the technology dangerous, while being bound by a common belief that it just is.

As a result, cell phone towers are being burned to the ground, which, in one of those "oops" moments, is just making it harder for sick people to get help.

If it helps, Science Based Medicine reports that 5G is harmless. Or, if you'd prefer, all glory to the Hypnotoad.