5G conspiracy theories cause chaos, but why?

More 5G towers have been vandalised in the UK, why are people so scared?

woman looking stressed and holding her head in her hands whileu

Thursday, 28 May, 2020

Under pressure.

Over the weekend the government announced a fresh review into the inclusion of Huawei in the UK’s 5G infrastructure. If the government makes a U-turn on the decision to allow Huawei in 5G infrastructure it could delay roll out.

It’s thought pressure from the US and a post-Brexit deal is the reason for the rethink. It was also recently reported that the majority of hacking attempts taking advantage of COVID had Chinese government links. So the rethink makes sense with the risk of a deteriorating ‘special relationship’ with the US, and security threats.

However, public opinion might also have a part to play. In recent months conspiracy theories about 5G and it’s links to Coronavirus have been prolific. It’s been said to ‘kill cells’, cause cancer, cause Coronavirus and even read minds!

Some governments around the world have even halted 5G rollout entirely until more studies have been done.

Out of control.

Concerns over the technology have become so serious that people have taken to burning down newly erected 5G towers! Just this weekend in Derby a 5G mast was burned down by concerned residents.

Worryingly, people have even taken to attacking engineers installing 5G masts. OpenReach said there were 68 incidents of staff abuse since 1 April compared to just 42 in all of 2019. And a staggering 56 of these attacks were members of the public opposed to 5G.

Anti 5G protest posters have even been found to have razor blades behind them, to injure anyone removing them. But why are they worried?

Should we be worried?

Well, no. It won’t kill you! Scientists have found no links to the concerns the online conspiracy theories report.

5G runs on low frequency radio waves. Low frequency waves aren’t able to affect cells like high frequency waves (X-Rays, the sun’s rays).

However, while 5G won’t control your thoughts or melt your cells, the conspiracy theories might be tapping into genuine concerns.

With the rollout of 5G, the potential for technological advancements will be unlike anything we have seen in our lifetime. The streamlining of industry and production will mean self driving cars and trucks will become a possibility. Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality will replace elements of daily life – something the pandemic has made the new normal.

So a ‘decentralized workforce’ (remote working) seems inevitable. This is great for those of us working in offices where we might benefit from increased connectivity and lie-ins.

So why does anyone care? Well it means the loss of jobs for those working in factories, driving taxis and freighters, customer service roles etc… If self driving cars, AI, VR, become prevalent we won’t need drivers, factory workers, receptionists.

Coping method.

It’s a conversation that few are having, but these genuine job loss fears play into the popularity of these conspiracy theories. ‘Confirmation Bias’ is a common coping method for people to make sense of situations. They look for facts to support their view, sometimes even if they aren’t correct.

One way to tackle the backlash is for governments to make people feel secure in the post 5G job market. Or they could use 5G to brainwash us – kidding!

Natalie Dunning author picture


Natalie Dunning is a freelance writer and Media Psychology researcher based in Manchester.