Jenna Gyimesi | Oberlin College
Drones are often criticized for distancing the pilot from his or her actions. The desensitization may be prompted by the pilot never having to experience the physical space of war. Although pilots receive visual feedback from a drone, they do not receive audio feedback. For this reason, most people think of drones as eerily silent. However, drones are not silent for the people they are surveying.
Field journalist David Rhode was kidnapped and held by Taliban members for 7 months. He stated, “The drones were terrifying. From the ground, it is impossible to determine who or what they are tracking as they circle overhead. The buzz of a distant propeller is a constant reminder of imminent death.”
The buzzing produced by drones may act as a psychological weapon. The sound is a perpetual indication of the substantial military capabilities of the force operating the drone. The fear produced by the sound may keep enemies in line, but it also may terrify civilians.
Individuals from the tribal areas of Pakistan often refer to drones as “machar”, meaning mosquitoes because of the buzzing sound drones produce. People from this area report that children look forward to cloudy days since drones cannot fly in bad weather.
Aside from buzzing, mosquitoes and drones share a capacity to cause significant fatalities. Malaria kills about 600,000 people a year. The Bureau of Investigative Journalism reports that the US has launched a minimum of 4,413 drone strikes. During those missions, between 6,826 and 9,930 people have been killed. They are also similar in that mosquitoes, and the buzzing of drones are sometimes inescapable.