Beyond the practical reasons (we’ll get to those), a magnet is awesome to have inside me is because I have another way to sense something, formerly denied to the body I was born with, in the world around me. Really, that was the whole motivation for me to get one in the first place.
The people who know me less as a biohacker and more as an nature sort wonder how it makes any sense that I’d have a foreign object implanted in my body. Well, friends, electromagnetic fields are a big part of the natural world (it’s one of the four forces of the universe, after all!), and having a magnet installed in my body allows me to feel more of that big world that’s around me. So there.
We sense in many ways – pressure via touch sense, light via sight, and so on. Hearing can be achieve via magnet, if put in your ear (and you’ll learn that, in a way, hearing is kind of a touch sense too). We also have non-traditional senses like our sense of balance or hunger. There are those lifeforms that can sense magnetism with the bodies they were born with like salamanders and plants. For those like me, we sorta commandeered our touch sense to use for magnetic fields.
My magnet was installed in the spring of 2014. The biohackers I knew generally got their magnets in their fingers (which I want also, but do not yet have), but a friend of mine and I were exploring the idea of a complementary wearable that would intensify and add to what we could sense. The finger was not particularly feasible for the equipment that would be involved, so I got my magnet in my wrist. The underside that was sensitive, equal or nearly so as my fingers.
I was nervous about this location as I have a number of veins in that area and I find them, well, important. The body artist I went to was confident that it would work. A small slice, a metal cylinder slid in, and a stitch later, I had a magnet installed in my body. It was a quick procedure. Getting my belly button pierced hurt more. The first thing I did to test it was to hold my arm up to a fan. Then, the magnet started to vibrate because of the field the fan produced, and I experienced an entirely new thing inside my body.
If you’re curious, the preliminary part of our experiment worked with the magnet, but the project is on the back burner for now.
Note: You can get a similar experience and test it by holding a magnet lightly and putting it in a field, but it doesn’t walk around with you quite like this; it doesn’t feel like it’s part of you.
Over the next few weeks, the wound healed and my little nerves grew around the parylene coating, holding it tight. I loved it.
No, you can’t feel North with it, but you can make a compass crazy and make your phone gps a little screwy. You have to be close (usually); these are not super powerful magnets, just a teaser for the bigger world of electromagnetism. They’re subtle. They sneak up on you at random. You forget about it just like you forget you can smell when you’re (or at least when I’m) in Iceland, until suddenly you do.
Some of the things I have experienced thanks to my new sense: The alternating fields include fans, microwaves, something in my phone, some electrical cords, the sensors when I walk into the local library (they’re pretty intense), some mystery metal boxes on power line poles, and in some cases, the subway lines. The static fields include the encasement of my computer, my desk at a former job, the outside of my refrigerator, cheap silverware, some of my jewelry, and other magnets. The cheap silverware and bottle caps are great to freak people out (ahem, entertain) at restaurants or to teach little kids about magnetism.
I mentioned earlier about the practical reasons why one might enjoy an implanted magnet. Why you would need these reasons to be convinced having a magnet is awesome after knowing you can sense magnetic fields and pick up cheap silverware is beyond me, but there are some other uses. Educating children about how weird the world is. If your computer/tablet has a sensor that uses a magnet to make your computer fall asleep, it might be more convenient to use your magnet. If you work on computers and lose or have a hard time getting out those annoying little screws, fear not! Your magnet can help! If you’ve lost an earring or a safety pin on the floor, you don’t have to use your eyes alone to find it – wave that hand over the carpet as well and it might just stick to you. If you’re worried about the possibility that there is a link between electromagnetic fields and cancer, you might get a hint about whether it’s around (the field, not the cancer).
I’m sure there are many reasons one could find to use their magnet in everyday life. I have a big dream that some of those ideas will end up in the comments section of this post.