Long before cell phones were conceived, Americans remember the blaring sound and words of the Emergency Broadcasting System. “This is a test. This is only a test. Had this been an actual emergency…” Well, you know the rest. The ominous message was preceded by a startling signal explicitly chosen for its unpleasant, impossible-to-ignore noise that went out over radio and television stations. Today, most Americans carry around their TV and radios in the form of a cell phone. Thus, it was natural that the EBS would find the need to add on a National Wireless Emergency Alert System. FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) has a nationwide alert set for October 4 at 2:20 ET that will last approximately 30 minutes. Public reaction to it is beginning to crescendo into a forte of fear, mistrust, and confusion. What could possibly be the problem?
Working in concert, FEMA and the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) will conduct two tests. The Emergency Alert System (EAS) involves broadcast and cable outlets, and the Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) will involve individual cell phones. Wireless alerts are nothing new. If you’ve heard an AMBER alert, you were really hearing a WEA alert in action. This is not the first WEA test on the national level – one was conducted during the Trump Administration on October 3, 2018.
However, as this test date moves closer, more Americans are becoming unnerved by the event, sparking all manner of conspiracy theories. On the X platform, one can find a plethora of warnings. One post from “Unveil The Truth” urges people to “Shut off your phones and all smart devices to protect yourself……!!!!” An accompanying video issues the following caution:
“This test will be used to send a high-frequency signal through devices like smartphones, radios, and TVs with the intention of activating graphene oxide and other nanoparticles that have been inserted into billions of human beings around the world through the obvious mediums.”
If you have no idea what graphene oxide nanoparticles are – you are not alone. An NIH study shows that these substances, known as GONPs, are cytotoxic and include inflammatory biomarkers. In short, they’re bad for the immune system.
FEMA Alert: No Shortage of Conspiracy Theories
Over on Instagram and prominently labeled “false information,” there’s more about the GONPs. Kendall in Kentucky says she’ll have her phone off because of potential “DNA Damage.”
If this sounds a lot like the Stephen King movie Cell starring John Cusack and Samuel L. Jackson, that’s because it is. This ghastly thriller renders cell phone users into malevolent zombies and is not exactly light entertainment – or entertainment at all.
Still, others take a biblical approach (using that term loosely) and connect the alert to the end times. Another post on X by cagrown5 is more than a bit skeptical of the national cell phone alert. “October 4 FEMA ebs… A 30 min long alert? Really? 30 LONG minutes of different sounds… to every device… or are they downloading something onto all of our phones? This one is easy to sp8n [sic] different scenarios, but I do know, what they are telling us is not the real reason.”
Nicole James on X shared her plan for October 4, “Be safe…keep phones off and stay away from electronics. I’m planning on finding a heavily wooded park to hang out for the hour away from other people just in case. Tree’s buffer the frequencies.” DeeJay suggests you “put your phone in developer mode.” ChelleGirl said, “I’ll be sitting out on my back porch, reading my bible. No electronics. Just me, my dogs and nature.”
However, some have speculated that the purpose of the alert is to compile a list of those whose phones are turned off, who can then be characterized by authorities as MAGA-style freedom fighters. Damned if you participate, and damned if you don’t.
Social media is rampant with skeptics, and even the non-conspiracy-minded individual finds the government’s ability to take over one’s cell phone for half an hour more than a bit disquieting. Perhaps the real issue is what appears to be a widespread lack of faith in government authorities. Many believe they have earned a non-trustworthy reputation. In the end, cell phone alerts may be more about a test of how much Americans trust their government than about preparing for a cataclysmic event.