Minnesota is ranked fifth-worst in the country for uncollected dog poop, according to a survey made by Protectmypaws.com. Minneapolis is the 10th-worst city for unscooped leavings. Should you blush red with shame? Well, let's see how they got these stats.

Says the press release: "The team analyzed tweets."

Oh, for heaven's sake. Using Twitter as a means to quantify unbagged canine lawn-rods is like examining telegrams in 1947 to figure if people had washed their hair in the previous week. It's a small slice of humanity, and even if everyone on Twitter was putting a boot into a pile of pup-product, they wouldn't tweet about it. And if they did, they'd probably use a saltier word.

But that's my take. The researchers are the experts. They "made a list of poop-related keywords" (e.g., "dog poo," "dog poop," "dog litter," "stepped in poo," "poo bag," "dog fouling"), and then they "analyzed and extracted tweets featuring those words."

Dog fouling? What is this, Buckingham Palace? I'm sure the Queen picks up after her corgis, and if she did tread upon a mess, she would not tweet "we are dog befouled."

But what if the ranking is true? Why don't we pick up after our dogs more?

I blame the shift from print newspapers to digital. Don't get me wrong: Online news is where the world's headed, and hurrah for the Strib's digital readers. But the print paper comes in the best dog-poop bags ever made. If I were in charge of marketing, I'd tout the sturdy, long bag as the primary reason for subscribing, with the newspaper as a bonus. Poop bags, delivered fresh to your door! Plus Blondie!

Thanks, you say, but print is doomed; in the future, according to Facebook, we will live in the Metaverse, a computer-generated virtual reality space where anything is possible, except a Vikings Super Bowl victory. (They want to preserve some tenuous connection to the actual world.) We will float through the streets of Paris if we wish, walking customized virtual dogs.

Perhaps the Strib will make some deal, and Metaverse users who subscribe to the digital Strib will have virtual bags? It's more likely that the Metaverse will have virtual Rover's deposits carried away by virtual butterflies who sing Korean pop songs in four-part harmony.

But the old-timers with a sense of tradition will use virtual bags, because it connects them to the way things were. They'll have those special gloves that provide tactile feedback, so you can be virtually disgusted. Or: If they refuse to enter the Metaverse, the old-timers of 2041, walking the real dog in the real world, will use poop bags made at home on their 3-D printer, the templates downloaded from the Star Tribune website as a subscriber bonus.

By 2121, the newspaper will be gone, folded into a national information conglomerate, but the old associations will persist. When someone doesn't pick up after their dog, someone might say, "Hey! You gonna Strib up that?" Park signs will say "Strib after your dog." At least around here. In New York they'll say "Times your pooch." In Washington, "Post your dog." Everywhere else, "Gannett that poo."

In England, of course, "Financial Times that fouling."

You wonder how we're ranked for people tossing the poop bag in someone else's trash can because they don't want to carry it. Probably dead last. Not that we aren't doing that. It's because we all know it's wrong, and only a sociopath would tweet such a confession.

james.lileks@startribune.com • 612-673-7858 • Twitter: @Lileks • facebook.com/james.lileks