The town of Bomont outlawed dancing in the movie Footloose, but the kids in Green Bank, West Virginia live with much worse: no electronics.
That’s because the small town of 149 people lies in the middle of the 13,000-square mile National Radio Quiet Zone.
Scientists use this space to project satellites into space for research, and they can’t have waves from personal electronic devices interrupting their signals. That means no radio, TV, WiFi, cellphones or bluetooth.
Green Bank is home to the largest steerable radio telescope in the world – the Green Bank Telescope. It is arguably the most powerful satellite observing space.
To let the telescope operate without disturbances the town has completely outlawed the use of electronic transmitting devices and a policeman actually patrols the streets looking for wireless signals.
Only first responders are allowed to use radios and there’s only one pay phone. Residents still have access to the internet, but at the glacial streaming pace dial-up offers.
Obviously that makes modern life difficult for the residents of the town, but it’s also looked at as a positive by many who began flocking here in the mid-2000s to get away from all the technology.
Many of these newer residents say that they suffer from Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity (EHS), a disease not recognized in the medical community.
People like Diane Schou believe that the waves caused by electronic objects make them sick, much like allergies, and that Green Bank is one of the only places they can live and be healthy.
‘Life isn’t perfect here,’ Schou told Slate. ‘There’s no grocery store, no restaurants, no hospital nearby. But here at least, I’m healthy. I can do things. I’m not in bead with a headache all the time.’