by Roz Warren
I just read about an apartment complex that requires dog owners to submit a swab from a Q-Tip of each pooch’s saliva, so if somebody fails to scoop up his/her dog’s poop, it can be collected and sent to a lab for DNA analysis so that the culprit can be identified and its owner punished.
I don’t know about you, but I’m all for this kind of ludicrous hyper-vigilance. I only wish it could be extended to people who toss their cigarette butts on the ground or return library books with their pages covered in food stains. A world in which these miscreants could be tracked down and punished is a world I’m eager to live in.
Lucky for me, as surveillance techniques improve, it’s clear that we’re headed toward just that world. Soon there will be no secrets. Everyone else will always know exactly what you’ve done and where and to whom. We’ll all be able to view the footage of your misdeeds on YouTube and share them with each other on Facebook.
As a nice person who would never dream of failing to gather her Yorkie-poo’s tiny turds into biodegradable plastic bags and dispose of them properly, or of not cleaning my table after I eat at the food court, or of throwing my cigarette butt out the car window. (In fact, I don’t even smoke. I’m just that perfect.), I welcome this wonderful new world in which all of you will have to act more like me.
I am a mild-mannered librarian, and I fit all of the stereotypes. I am exceptionally nice to everyone at all times. I never raise my voice. I obey the rules. Even the stupid ones. Even when nobody is looking. I don’t drive in the breakdown lane or over the speed limit. I don’t cheat at games or on my tax return. We librarians obey the Golden Rule.
And soon you’ll be just like me. In that fast-approaching utopia where everyone uses his/her turn signal, nobody drives faster than the posted speed limit and no newspaper goes unrecycled, we will all treat each other with respect, speak quietly and obey the rules of grammar.
Breeze through a stop sign? Thanks to cameras at every intersection, your ticket is in the mail! Refuse to pay a library fine? The government will be happy to deduct it (with penalties and interest) from your tax refund.
Want to sexually harass that new co-worker? Better think twice; she has a cell phone with a camera. So does everyone else in your workplace. Make that unwanted pass, and it’ll be on YouTube within an hour, and your job will be toast.
Thinking of leaving a blistering rant on your estranged wife’s phone? The more over-the-top it is, the more entertaining it will be for the rest of us. Especially after that clever animator puts a backbeat under it and recasts you as a deranged cartoon chipmunk. Soon the whole world will be laughing at you. And you’ll lose custody of your kids in the divorce. (Deranged cartoon chipmunks never get joint custody.)
See where is this going? Surveillance is inevitable. Privacy is kaput. Resistance is futile. So — take a deep breath. Get in touch with your inner librarian. Then relax and enjoy the ride. The meek are finally going to inherit the earth.
Roz Warren, a local librarian and regular contributor to the Local, is the author of “Our Bodies, Our Shelves: Library Humor”; http://ow.ly/LpFgE.