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.
Roz Warren is a humor writer whose work appears in The Funny Times, The Christian Science Monitor, The Utne Reader and Beatniks from Space.
This essay was originally published in Women’s Voices for Change.