For some odd reason I can't quite put my finger on, I've been more interested in crime news this year.

A friend who shares my paranoia (that's how we spell informed) told me about an app that gives alerts when crime happens.

"Pshaw. My doorbell does that," I said. (My friend's name is Pshaw.) "It has an app, and it's connected to other people who have the same brand of tattletale doorbells. When someone steals a package from someone's porch (which happens every 1.7 seconds), someone lurks in the backyard or tries the door at 3 a.m., everyone gets an alert (accompanied by a video), so we can lie awake in the dark contemplating the fallen nature of humanity."

From these videos, I've learned something: Motion-activated lights are no deterrent at all.

If anything, the miscreants seem grateful. "Hey, thanks. Now I can see what it is I was trying to steal."

I'd like a device that pitched them into terrifying super-dark that enveloped everything, so they'd run away and go smack into the side of the house. In the morning, you could make a plaster cast from the imprint they made in the stucco, give it to the cops, and they'd get right on it.

Anyway. The new app is called Citizen. It looks like a sonar or radar map, with your location right in the center, because the world revolves around you. Little dots appear when there's trouble.

Tap on one of the dots and sometimes you get a swarm of angry-face emojis rising and evaporating like sulfurous bubbles as other app users react. As I'm writing this, there's a report of a shooting at Powderhorn Park, and over 1,000 people who use the app have hit the angry-face emoji button.

That'll show 'em!

If the emojis were real instead of digital, and had the heft of a golf ball, and rained down like hail, they might make an impact. Otherwise, everyone stabbing the angry-face button on their phone is the definition of concern. (That's how we spell impotence.)

Just in case the app didn't make you nervous enough, it has a COVID feature. It uses Bluetooth to talk to other phones with the app, and if you're around someone who reported symptoms, you get an alert. "Hello, maybe someone who had a sore throat looked at you, and then you rubbed your eye? Go sit in a room for a fortnight and palpate your glands and check your temp every 30 minutes."

I just checked my phone, and it says I was around six people in the past week who had the app. None of us know each other, but our phones are talking.

"Psst. Your guy OK? Mine's fine."

"Yeah, mine reported feeling achy, but it was a tooth. Don't think that's a symptom."

"Well, it can be, if someone rubs their aching gums, then opens a door, then someone else comes along and touches the door and rubs his aching gums. Should we report this?"

"I don't know. It might be … Hold on. Shots fired, gotta go send an alert."

I have a new idea for an app. It monitors crime, COVID, serious weather, traffic problems, E. coli outbreaks, tectonic activity, solar flares, meteors, and then it keeps it to itself because frankly you have enough on your mind already.

I'd call the app Ignorance. It's how we spell sanity. • 612-673-7858 Twitter: @Lileks •