To share something is to risk losing it
March 6, 2018 7:46 PM   Subscribe

The Broccoli Tree: A Parable
Some thoughts on what can be lost, and what can't be, when we share what we love posted by yuwtze (9 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
This made me sad. Ugly, pointless destruction of something nice. And I was not heartened by any of his conclusions at the end.
My reply to his Facebook post of this video was Geez.
posted by Glinn at 8:15 PM on March 6 [2 favorites]

Cut one branch and the whole tree has to go?
posted by unliteral at 8:19 PM on March 6

What the everloving fuck? " 'One of the trees branches has now (a couple of days ago..?) been sawn in almost all the way through and it’s just a matter of time before it’ll fall off' .... Soon after, it was decided by some authority that the vandalism meant the entire tree had to come down. A work crew arrived and now it’s gone."
I have questions.
posted by drlith at 9:21 PM on March 6 [3 favorites]

Yeah this makes me sad too. I feel bad for the tree and the locals, and that despite what this narrator suggests there are no winners here.
posted by STFUDonnie at 9:34 PM on March 6 [1 favorite]

Anyone who spends any time in the wilderness in the United States has likely heard of the seven Leave No Trace principles. They're a set of practices that help minimize your impact on nature and also preserve it for those who come after you.

The internet has made learning about hiking and planning trips much easier than it used to be, and this has generally been seen as a positive. Hiking and backpacking is an overwhelmingly white, wealthy, and male recreational activity (it's probably not overwhelmingly male anymore, but still mostly rich white people). Anything that lowers the barriers to entry is good, and there are a lot of people working to get underrepresented groups into the wild.

As with all things there are negatives. The ease of internet information sharing has resulted in beautiful spots getting trashed. The Vance Creek Bridge, Racetrack Playa, Conundrum Hot Springs, Grove of Titans, and countless others across the country have all seen massive increases in visitation followed by litter, improperly disposed of human waste, and various types of vandalism.

This isn't new, the history of outdoors recreation is a history of humans fucking nature up and why the LNT principles were needed in the first place, but what social media does is concentrate the damage. Someone posts a pretty photo in the local 80,000-member strong hiking Facebook group and in the following months a hundred photos of the same place get posted. Someone starts an Instagram hashtag for a spectacular spot and before you know it groups are organizing volunteer trips to pack out the litter and the land managers are putting up fences to contain the hordes. Someone popularizes the Broccoli Tree and then it's gone.

People have suggested an 8th LNT principle, though responsible social media use is arguably already covered. Basically, we all need to think twice before posting beautiful places online because people who don't understand or care about their own impacts have a history of ruining good things.
posted by edeezy at 9:53 PM on March 6 [6 favorites]

On the other hand, I suppose the nice thing about sharing the tree is the extra joy the photographer brought to the world and the joy that might have propagated from that joy. That one person who smiled from the latest picture might have a little bit better day and not treat that barista badly when their coffee takes too long to be made, and that barista, not having had a shitty day, might treat their partner a little better after work, and so on.

Overall, I can be one cynical son of a bitch, but, sometimes I HAVE to think that it's not just all shit and blood, and there's a reason to try to be a better person in this world. I may feel like chiseled spam at work tomorrow, but, I can try to share a smile or a joke or a good deed with someone and think, nay, feel that my little action might ripple outwards and make the world that tiny, quantum bit better. And if that means risking something by sharing it, then I have to do that. Otherwise, what's it all for?
posted by Samizdata at 11:48 PM on March 6 [2 favorites]

This is why I worry about ‘Daxon’s Instagram feed, built by the wonderful, compassionate, charismatic Allen Dixon, whose animal selfies feature primarily the quokka, a creature who’s equally charismatic (see ‘quokkahub’ - sorry no link; I’m on my phone). He has a book of their photos coming out soon...
posted by mmiddle at 4:24 AM on March 7 [1 favorite]

Oof, this hit me hard. A couple of decades ago I researched and published an article about a local ruin popularly thought to be haunted. Just a few weeks after the article hit the internet, vandals burned it down. I've always felt some responsibility for that, for the very same reason: by making it more widely known, I also made it a more attractive target for said vandals.
posted by Lunaloon at 4:59 AM on March 7

I love John Green so much. Just...ugh. He's so lovely.
posted by lazaruslong at 10:32 AM on March 7 [2 favorites]

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