The Petroleum Era saw a small but steadily rising self-diagnosed disease in the form of Electromagnetic Sensitivity, or EMS. The victims of the disease claimed that wireless electronics, and other tech devices caused them to become ill. This ranged from technophobic hysteria associated with radar arrays, communications towers, and other high tension power lines, as well as a cultural infatuation and affliction of social media, television, and the pitfalls and traps associated with them. When facing the first wave of cyberculture, many of these people experienced anxiety, which manifested as fatigue, irritability, and even vague and generic but verifiable physical symptoms like rashes, and other physical stress symptoms. This was just another stripe in the tapestry of affliction of the Petroleum Era, along with eating disorders, food allergies, autism, and attention deficit disorders.
The New Face of EMS
EMS saw a resurgence in Commonwealth of New England's Southborough Arcology. A large number of people inside the arcology came down with a series of medical disorders, with common symptoms being headache, fatigue, stress, sleep disturbances, skin prickling, burning
sensations and rashes, pain and ache in muscles and many other health
problems. These were dismissed as psychosomatic at first, but the physical manifestions increased. Headaches turned into migraines that compromised vision, balance, and ability to interface with neuroconnective technology. Fatigue and stress escalated into lethargy and panic/anxiety attacks. Sleep disturbances started having negative effects on cardiovascular and neurological health. The burning sensations and rashes turned into full blown lesions and bruising. While the mind can work tricks, and mimic the symptoms of diseases, it is beyond hypochondria to 'think' bruises and cerebral inclusions into existence.
The medical staff at Southborough were flabbergasted. The diagnostic machinery couldn't pinpoint any specific cause, or a common thread between any of the patients in the facility. While none were really life threatening, the quality of life index was going down, and the general anxiety of the entire arco was markedly rising. This was considered unacceptable, and a number of searches and inquiries were launched to determine the cause of the outbreaks. The cause was eventually found, quietly handled, and a scapegoat was created and pushed out for the public bloodletting.
The culprit of the Southborough arcology epidemic was a damaged ventilation shaft running through their section of the building. This shaft was not properly shielded and was bouncing arcane radiation from a mechanical deck through said residential zones. The outbreak was nothing more than exposure to electromagnetic 'leakage' from a plasma exchanger, a fairly mundane piece of arcanotech.
Arcanotech is still relatively young, not entirely out of it's awkward quack medicine phase, and a number of it's applications are far from refined. Power generated from Dimensional Reactors carries electromagnetic resonances that are still barely detectable, let alone understood. Many of these are handled with proper shielding and grounding technologies, but minor oversights, and deterioration of arcanotech systems can lead to outbreaks of EMS and worse. The powers that be are highly dependent on arcanotech, and already have their hands full handling equipment failures, and the subsequent Dimensional Fatigue events. The fact that proximity to the basic machinery that makes arcologies, and large space stations and ships possible can cause mental and physical harm is a fact that cannot become widespread.
EMS is a self diagnosed condition, and contrary to claims, it has more to do with social overstimulation and neurocognitive burn out than exposure to any sort of imagined radiation. People who feel they are suffering from EMS are recommended to see a physician and explore alternative treatments such as attending 'nature retreats' and other activities that take them mentally and emotionally away from their daily Cognet use routine. It can be as simple as getting 'a little fresh air'
Continuation of symptoms could require a personal move to a new environment, a lifestyle change, or in extreme cases, psychotronic adjustment. Ask you doctor which is right for you.
A Little Fresh Air
The new arc phrase for conspiracy theories. After explaining the latest government cover-up, ultimate reason for the latest skirmish, or dissection of the daily discourse, rather than being mocked for tinfoil hat theories, the theorist is dismissed with ' hey buddy, dont you think you need a little fresh air?
The powers that be are working to contain the issue of EMS. Having technology that irradiates and makes your population unhealthy is bad for business. New arcologies and other megastructures have more attention paid to insulating the radiation from arcanotech devices, while remaining permeable to CogNet frequencies. This is proving a challenge as the CogNet's frequencies are very similar to other less desireable arcane wavelengths. This is largely being addressed with relays and repeaters in the system replacing massive central towers throwing signal. The towers are still used, but are now being used in a more focused manner than in an umbrella manner. This has seen a major decrease in EMS outside of arcologies, and only minimal impact of CogNet speed.
Older facilities are more likely to see instances of EMS, with older equipment, and superstructures that were built without arcano-ablative compounds. Geofronts and other lower class facilities are also likely to have more instances of EMS, due to the lower level of construction and materials used. With the lower income population in the urban sprawls, less importance is placed on protecting them from arcane radiation than on arcology dwellers.