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Opinion: Why getting offline could help us return to truth and unity

Sylvester McMonkey McBean is controlling our thoughts, and, at some point, we have to stop feeding him our time and energy


Social media platforms are the leading cause of the division within our society.

In this article, I am going to diverge from my normal topic of neighbor relations and focus on a topic and movement I believe that we as a profession could lead.

When those protesting policing practices took to the streets and burned down buildings in the summer of 2020 their supporters called their actions an uprising, claiming they were justified because of police oppression. Detractors called their actions riots and sedition.

When those protesting COVID restrictions and 2020 election matters plotted to harm elected officials and stormed the Capitol building, their supporters called them patriots, claiming their actions were justified because they were protesting an oppressive government. Detractors called their actions sedition and insurrection.

Our society is becoming more and more divided as each day passes, and unfortunately, law enforcement is often caught in the middle of that division.

Let’s talk about the divider

We often talk about the division but we seldom talk about the divider. If you have read The Sneetches by Dr. Suess you may recall the main character Sylvester McMonkey McBean, the Fix-it-Up Chappie. McBean sucked all the money out of the town after taking advantage of the Sneetches’ disdain for one another.

For the purposes of this column, McBean is Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. In my opinion, these social media platforms are the leading cause of the division within our society and, just like McBean, they profit from our division.

In addition to profiting, they contribute to our division by allowing the promotion of falsehoods and appealing to the most intrinsic negative aspects of our psyche.

During both the riots in summer 2020 and the Capitol siege, McBean continued to allow people to post misinformation and promote violent events. McBean did not slow down or turn off the Fix-it-Up machine during these events because the activity from the Sneetches (the public) kept pumping money into his pockets. All the while, those in the law enforcement profession were caught in the middle, used as pawns and attacked by both sides.

The dangers of “them and they”

McBean does an excellent job of promoting “them and they.” As long as “them and they” are promoted we will never find common ground nor fully function as a society. We have to get away from “them and they” and start focusing on “us and we.” If we keep focusing on “them and they,” there may not be a “you and me” around too much longer.

McBean is controlling our thoughts and, at some point, we have to stop feeding him our time and energy and reconnect with each other in person.

Imagine what it would be like if we returned to forming our opinions of each other based on actual interactions as opposed to those fed to us by McBean? LEOs would be seen as human again as opposed to faceless officers. Members of our communities could go back to being human again as opposed to faceless citizens who just want to protest every police action.

Don’t let McBean profit from division

“Them and they” have been very profitable for McBean. For instance, Twitter’s membership increased from 185 million users in 2012 to 335 million currently. The company’s profit went from approximately $112 million in the 4th quarter of 2012 to $936 million in the 3rd quarter of 2020. Facebook saw its profits jump from approximately $1.6 billion in the 4th quarter of 2012 to $28 billion in the 4th quarter of 2020. McBean, the Fix-it-up Chappie, has racked up huge profits while our cities have experienced massive civil unrest and our society has become more divided than ever.

Take a social media break

One way to stop feeding McBean is to take a break from him. I have taken several social media breaks recently and found them to be mentally recharging. I am currently encouraging officers and their families and anyone else who reads this to take a break from McBean from June 7 until August 9. I am calling it #getmyownthoughtsback.

I know many in our profession are stressed and feeling beatdown from all the negative media coverage but I believe that taking a break from McBean and the news will allow us all an opportunity to get our own thoughts back. We have to begin to turn the corner on lies and division and get back to truth and unity. Will you join me in taking a break from McBean?

NEXT: Not them, but us! Not they, but we! Not her/him, but me!

Bloomington Police Department Chief Booker Hodges has worked as a school resource officer, patrol deputy, narcotics detective, SWAT operator, patrol overnight watch commander, inspector, undersheriff, acting chief deputy, an assistant public safety commissioner and now chief of police.

Prior to joining the Bloomington Police Department in April of 2022, he served with the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, the Lake Police Department and the Ramsey and Dakota County Sheriff’s Office. He has led agencies ranging from 40 to 1,500 staff members.