Back in 2013, we were still relatively innocent. Drones were things that blew up bad guys in dusty countries. And sometimes collaterally damaged some dusty innocents. There were a few remotely-operated aerial snoops in operation by domestic law enforcement, but the skies were still mostly clear and uncluttered.
The next couple of years were a time of creeping proliferation. Big city police forces, then small town police forces bought the increasingly-affordable unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), but they had a demonstrated need for such resources. They reduced high-speed car chases, gave officers access to better intelligence about crisis situations, and were way cheaper than helicopters. And nobody objected too loudly. Well, not nobody. The ACLU was up in arms, but when’s the last time you paid attention to them?
Then different kinds of agencies got into the act. Drones were great for keeping an eye on large open spaces, so the National Park Service went on a drone-buying binge. Several lost hikers found thanks to those little eyes in the sky did a lot of good for the reputations of drone manufacturers. They were heroes! Killing evil-doers overseas, in places Americans can’t find on a map, and saving our citizens at home, in places Americans can’t find on a map.
Month by month, drones got smaller, more sophisticated, more reliable, and less costly. Inevitably, they reached the luxury consumer market. You could pick one up on Amazon for about the same price as a 150 inch television.
They weren’t made in America by defense manufacturers anymore. They were made in Vietnam and Burma by Apple. Then, after that last Kim guy was assassinated by Samsung, they were made in North Korea. The economics were awesome, because North Koreans work for rice. And man, those people work really hard.
I don’t know exactly when or how things truly got out of hand. It’s hard to put your finger on a single moment or cause. Maybe the tipping point came when Google Drone came online one day, giving everyone live 24/7 video coverage of every square yard of every metropolitan center in the country.
Then Facebook bought the US Virgin Islands as part of that controversial debt ceiling deal requiring the selloff of lots of national assets (remember when they had the big unveiling of the Statue of Liberty Mutual?). Everyone wondered what Zuckerberg was going to do with the islands. Nobody guessed he was going to sell them back to Denmark, in order to finance the launch of InYourFacebook®. That was brilliant. Requiring an annual subscription in order to “opt out” of “coverage” (I still say it’s “stalking”) by InYourFacebook’s autonomous air force was the thing that made Zuckerberg the first trillionaire.
Pretty soon there was a drone in every garage, and wealthier families had a second one for Mom to hover over the soccer game the Bolivian nanny took Junior to.
Obviously, the FAA wasn’t happy about America’s airspace getting ever more crowded with buzzing, peeping little flying machines. They tried everything they could to shut down the dronification of America, and for awhile it looked like they might triumph. The public was becoming concerned. People were getting killed by inexpertly operated drones, and by drone collisions sending wreckage raining from the skies. When a cloud of online media drones smashed into each other and fell, impaling Lindsay Lohan while she was apprenticing Donald Trump on the set of Trump This, You Pathetic Losers!, most of us believed the government would finally take action.
Then, of course, the NRA came into the picture. Those guys are so good. Some yahoo in Texas bolts an AR-15 to his drone, and suddenly everything’s different. “…the right of the people…” I really dislike those guys. “...to keep and bear Arms…” I’m serious. I really, really dislike them. “…shall not be infringed.” Naturally, the Roberts Court narrowly upheld all that crap for flying guns.
So now all you had to do was duct tape a Glock to your drone, and you were all good. Untouchable and un-infringable. The “Stand Your Airspace” law in Florida was unavoidable. I guess all the mayhem from the resulting dogfights between rival personal drones is just part of the price we pay for freedom.
I know most people have gotten used to being followed and monitored all the damn time by the police drones, the insurance company drones, VISA drones, Bloomberg’s Tobacco-Free New York drones (can’t believe we made him Mayor-for-Life), and all the other drones. But it’s starting to stick in my craw.
I’m telling you. I’m getting fucking tired of all these fucking drones!
This morning I opened the curtains and balcony door in my bedroom, and there were four – FOUR – drones hovering there, pointing their cameras and guns at me. I was naked. And so was the woman in my bed, who immediately pulled the covers over her head, because she hasn’t yet told that executive at Disney-Boeing that she’s divorcing him.
And I was ready to draw a line in the air. I fired up a genuine Romeo y Julieta, put my hands on my hips, and let the pimply geeks controlling the drones enjoy a full-frontal of my furry chest and man parts.
Who knows who sent the infernal machines? Does it matter? One of them could be from my companion’s husband. Possibly one or two from some of my less stable exes. That company whose buyout offer for my firm I turned down. The Wall Street Journal, because I cancelled my subscription. Thomas Friedman, because I gave a half-hearted, two-star review to his latest book Hot, Flat, Crowded and Not Paying Enough Attention to Me.
As I stood there, a fifth drone showed up in front of my balcony, this one with official NYC markings. Had to be the anti-tobacco cops. Then a sixth appeared. Treasury Department. That would be for my Cuban cigar, of course.
A man knows when to make a stand.
I opened a locker beside the bed and pressed a switch on a little black device with three antennae. A red light came on, and the GPS/cellular jammer activated. The six drones shuddered, then resumed hovering on auto-pilot. I’d cut the tether to their controllers, and they were blind, dumb and impotent now.
Next, I grabbed my Mossberg 590, removed the trigger lock, and loaded eight Fiocci plastic-pellet shells. A quick glance over the balcony showed nothing down below but a Fox News-New York Times truck and Justin Bieber posing in a new hat for a TMZ-CNN drone.
Six satisfying bangs, and drone confetti littered down to the street. I turned off my jammer and smiled out at a better morning in New York.
Then yet another drone showed up, marked “Federal Communications Commission”. GPS/cellular jammers are prohibited devices.
I shrugged and shot that one, too.