I just read about an apartment complex that requires dog owners to submit a Q-Tip swab of each pooch’s saliva, so if people fail to scoop their dog’s poop, it can be collected and sent to a lab for DNA analysis so 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 yucky food stains. A world in which these miscreants could be tracked down and punished is a world I’m eager to live in.

Luckily for me, it’s clear that as surveillance techniques improve we’re headed toward just that world. Pretty 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 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 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 cut the line. I don’t take advantage. I don’t drive in the breakdown lane or over the speed limit. I don’t cheat at games or when filing out my tax return. We librarians are the living embodiment of the Golden Rule. And soon you’ll be just like us.

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 chipmucks never get joint custody.)

See where this is 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. It’s going to be great—the meek are finally going to inherit the earth.

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  • irene March 14, 2012 at 11:42 am

    You’re right! and the most frightening surveillance of all falls on any user of the www. But is there a mindset and lifestyle anywhere between the Rulebound Meek and the Paranoid Survivalist?

  • Just One Boomer March 14, 2012 at 11:40 am

    Roz, I’m soooooo with you on this one. Goody two shoes of the world unite!!

  • Steve Klaper March 14, 2012 at 11:14 am

    Can I pay ahead of time for rule-breaking credits? Like the industrial corporations pay for pollution credits? I might consider that a reasonable tradeoff just to keep some spontaneity in my life.

  • joan March 14, 2012 at 10:53 am

    In my neighborhood the police ignore the junkies booting up and go after the dogs off leash, because they know the dog owners are easier to catch and prosecute. No one will leave their dog. But junkies and the drunk minors take off when the blue lights come one. The questions is, how do we turn junkies and punks into librarians? Maybe allow them to shoot up in the bathrooms?

  • RozWarren March 14, 2012 at 10:52 am

    Steve as I recall you broke SO MANY rules when we were young and foolish that you need to be especially good now.

  • RozWarren March 14, 2012 at 10:51 am

    Nicole I am only sisters-under-the skin with Elizabeth. We are not, technically, related. But she is my hero and I have given money to her campaign.

  • Steve Klaper March 14, 2012 at 10:48 am

    Well, I don’t want to act rudely, or be uncivilized, or disturb the Wah of another, but hey, breaking rules is kind of fun. C’mon Ros, can’t I break a few rules? Little ones?

    Give a fellah some hope here…

  • nicole hollande March 14, 2012 at 10:17 am

    Roz, very funny, very lucid. That’s the ticket grrl! and nothing to be done. That makes me a bit sad, but it’s the truth. I will save my energy for getting Elizabeth Warren elected. Is she any relation?

  • Nancy Bea Miller March 13, 2012 at 8:17 pm

    Love it! “I welcome this wonderful new world in which all of you will have to act more like me.” Could be worse!

  • Isabella March 13, 2012 at 2:47 pm

    I wonder if (for another 20 bucks) if they’d do a genome analysis of your pet’s ancestry with that saliva sample….

  • Mark Lowe March 13, 2012 at 1:14 pm

    One nation, under surveillance!

  • kate March 13, 2012 at 12:01 pm


  • Kelly March 13, 2012 at 11:16 am

    Yes, finally people who cut in line will get what they deserve!

  • Ruth nathan March 13, 2012 at 10:18 am

    Lord help the folks who pee in swimming pools.