Technosmog

It sounds bad, like the pollution in the air we breath. What could technosmog be?

In the book one, I mentioned I had done a health report in high school on noise pollution and was surprised at what I discovered. More recently, the past ten years have been filled with noisy construction and, now that I am feeling the results of aging, I realize the impacts of noise on my body and my mind. I remember people warning me about possible health problems from using cell phones, but largely sort of ignored them for a long time. I suppose I was just too addicted to the convenience. Recently, I became aware of the even larger role of Electro Magnetic Fields (EMFs) in our lives. The providers of cell phone networks are just in the process of moving to the next generation, from 4G to 5G, and there are plenty of controversies—many even dubbed conspiracy theories. The ‘G’ refers to Generation. I began reading up on the subjects. I discovered that EMFs can be a cause of Tinnitus, which, as you have read elsewhere, is an affliction I experience. It occurred to me that my Tinnitus became really noticeable sometime after we had installed Wi-Fi. I wonder if there is a connection? What are other sources of EMFs that are affecting me?

It’s that icky, usually light brown, haze in the sky that we call smog; a byproduct of the Technojungle. The word is made by combining the words smoke and fog, and is used to describe air pollution. Think about these two words and the word smog as metaphors while we safari into technosmog. I’m obviously combining the word smog with technology to apply the notion of smog to technology byproducts. In other words, can you view and imagine the over abundance of Technojungle technology in your life, including that which is in use, perhaps unnecessary, and that which is out of use and discarded? What else comes to your mind that is a Technosmog?

Los Angeles dowtown on a foggy day (Cool Stock photos by Vecteezy)
Hidden in the sometimes beautiful colours is an environments disaster.
Here building poke up through the smog as the son tries to shine.

What is your first recollection of smog? I have been hearing of smog alerts and comments from people as far back as the 1970s, although, lately they call it ‘the air quality indicator,’ if it gets mentioned at all. These alerts refer to Technojungle air pollution. It seems to me that people just get less alarmed about it now as they focus on global warming and climate change. To me, these terms have become political, I believe using the word smog would be useful. Smog seems to have a dirtier connotation to it.

Other kinds of common Technojungle pollution relate to things like garbage, or oil, or other environmental contaminants. Earlier in these books we talked about Technojungle information pollution. Can you imagine information as smog—technosmog?

When we think of environmental pollution, we think of the various Technojungle contaminants we humans introduce into the Earth’s environment which destroy the natural pristine ground, water, and air. Human Technojungle endeavours result in products and byproducts. Some are useful and others are discarded, often carelessly. Technological advancements create obsolescence, so more things also get discarded. Technology builds and grows gradually permeating every aspect of our lives and invading Earth’s natural environment. Suddenly, everywhere we turn we face more technology and more technosmog.

It’s that icky, usually light brown, haze in the sky that we call smog.

I can’t even count the number of tech devices people have given me over the years. These are items that I have used for many additional years keeping them from early retirement in Technojungle landfills. Do you think recycling works? Does it actually reduce pollution as well as we believe? Often recycling does not always result in reduced pollution, but usually ends up creating more smog somewhere else. This is dehumanizing. 

We like to think that we are being responsible, but plastics, for instance, can end up in the landfill of third world countries where they get burned. Yup, you guessed it—smog on the ground and smog in the air. You may wish to further investigate matters of recycling. In book one we looked at the pollution buildup in the oceans. The largest is called Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

I feel we can’t move on toward wrapping up our written safari through the Technojungle without turning our attention to further types of pollution in our environments. We can see most kinds of pollution and the destructions they cause, but what about pollutions we can’t see? Let’s look at a couple of other important forms of pollution and think of them as technosmog. 

Noise

It is summer and I have my window open. For the moment, the construction machinery is quiet. I can hear a few voices, however, there is a definite din, a constant noise caused by traffic on the highway in the distance. It certainly feels like smog to me. I can hear it swirling around my head. The noises can get quite loud at times and I must close my window and rely on my fan humming away a few feet from me to keep me cool on this hot day.

Noise can seem only bothersome, yet the constant noise of a city can be a background of smog—the louder the noise, the thicker the smog. We usually don’t pay attention to it until it gets to be more than we can bear. My Tinnitus is a sort of noise smog in my head that never stops. I have to try to ignore it. But, I can’t just shut the window or do something to reduce the noise level. It is a pollution in my head.

Why should we be concerned about noise smog, or noise pollution?

Noise is measured in Decibels (dB). One day I realized that my hearing was changing, and not just because of the Tinnitus. That’s when I downloaded a few apps on my smartphone so I could measure the dBs around me. I discovered that there are recommendations as to the amount of time one could be exposed to loud noises. I made a chart to illustrate.

At the moment, I have the window a foot behind me open a crack because there has been loud construction noises this morning. I also have a quiet fan running on low. I just measured a quiet place in my house and then took a measurement in my office. The quiet place was around 25dBs, while the office is around 37–40dBs and, at times machinery takes the reading above 50dBs. If I open my window, the reading goes up to 60–70dBs, sometimes even over 80dBs. Jarring spikes, like the one that woke me this morning, can set nerves on edge. Look at the chart again. Think about the constant noise you experience and how it persists for the entire day. The buildup of noise in your head has consequences to your body and mind. 

Some general symptoms of exposure to noise pollution include elevated levels of stress and tension, disrupted sleep, and of course, hearing damage. Other problems arising from noise pollution include: Headache, poor cognitive function (impaired thinking), mental imbalance (psychological disorders) and issues,  brain damage, loss of hearing, tinnitus, problems with blood pressure and cardiovascular issues, difficulties with concentration and communications. Noise pollution involves stress responses.

Do these results from noise pollution make you want to sit up and take notice? What can you do about it in your life?

As someone experiencing age-related hearing decline, Tinnitus, and Hyperacusis, I would like to urge you to take an interest and pay more attention to Technojungle noise pollution. It can affect so much of your life and your body. Noise pollution is definitely dehumanizing.

EMFs

The movement of electricity through a wire causes a Magnetic Field. Radio waves are actually electromagnetic waves. These both create Electro Magnetic Frequencies, or EMFs, that bounce around and can pass through our body. We only have to look right in our own Technojungle homes to find multiple sources of EMFs. Look around you, your house, anywhere you go; how many sources of EMFs can you identify? 

Anything electrical will create Technojungle EMFs. Your cell phone, cell phone towers, WiFi, computers, microwaves, the walls in your house with electricity running through wires, even the sun, the list is long.

There are two kinds of Technojungle electromagnetic radiation, ionizing and non-ionizing. Ionizing EMFs come from ultraviolet light and X-rays. These are definitely considered dangerous. 

Our list above consists of non-ionizing EMFs. The dangers from these are considered low, however, the research is weak. Still, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) states that EMFs are “possibly carcinogenic to humans.” Further studies are required. Can you think of reasons why the scientific community and health governing bodies are not rushing to determine conclusively whether these lower-level sources of Technojungle radiation are in fact dangerous.

As I write this, the world is rolling out the next generation of Technojungle cell phone networks called 5G, or 5th generation. This type of network operates at higher bandwidths than previous generations, therefore the signals don’t travel as far. The number of already controversial Technojungle cell phone towers in everyone’s community needs to be increased above 4G numbers.

The pandemic has moved people to do more activities online Technojungle. This has increased the demand for all technologies involved in online activities from work, to school, to entertainment, and socializing. As a result, concern is rising over the effects and possible dangers from too much screen time, isolation, and many other concerns, including EMFs.

I have done some research on Technojungle EMFs and I do conclude that we need to take precautions. It is not difficult to find plenty of advice and safety products. It’s just hard to justify the dangers from something that you can’t see, hear, feel, or even understand. Experts need to do more research and raise red flags. I wonder if it would do any good, since we seem to be on an unavoidable trajectory of filling our lives with even more EMF smog in our ever-growing addictions to the life the Technojungle gives us.

What do you think about the dangers of EMFs? Is this the first you have heard about them? Do you use your cell phone on speaker so you don’t have to hold it up to your head? Do you take any other precautions to protect yourself from EMFs?

Information

I consider information an out-of-control byproduct of the Technojungle and therefore very important in the contexts of the chapters in these book. Book one discussed information in detail and even looked at various useless information, such as outdated, error filled, and much more. I assigned a couple of terms, Informational Excrement and Information Indigestion. Now, in this chapter, consider the issues discuss back in book one and relate them to the idea of information pollution and information as a form of Technojungle smog.

Pollutions are sneaky because they usually build up around us slowly. We get used to them as a sort of smog. As you safari, keep an image of smog in your mind as a metaphor for other aspects of the Technojungle that may also be considers a sort of smog. Smog is dehumanizing, so we need to consider our part. We always want to be aware of how we can learn about being better human beings and living in the Technojungle.

Smog is a lingering byproduct of the Technojungle that we tend to get used to and ignore, yet it is pollution and not healthy for us humans. How do we buy into this life of technology we face?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s