The parable of the Broccoli Tree

Originally published at:


That was nice but why was it framed as a letter to ‘Hank’?

There’s increasing awareness in the hiking community of the risks of social media. It’s usually framed in terms of much-shared places’ being ruined by overuse, but surely, drawing the attention of evildoers is also a risk.

There are no good answers. I don’t know what makes some people into destroyers. Some may be ill-educated, disadvantaged, ill-formed … but some appear simply to be wicked.

Because for some reason the Vlogbrothers always address their videos to each other. John’s videos are addressed to Hank and vice versa.

I guess it’s somewhere between “kinda sweet” and “really affected”, but I don’t know.

I don’t get it. It’s a tree with stories, right? What’s the parable part?

How does this relate to the OP?

Did you watch the video? It’ll answer this question and also the parable part.

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I think you meant ‘floret’, or are a monster


Ahh, thanks. I went to the original broccoli tree site but didn’t watch the vid… I get it now. I think we are down to very few categories on BBBBS…

  1. Christ, what an asshole.
  2. Cool shit!

File this under #1.

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Poe’s Law at work: I can’t tell if you’re trolling, or just didn’t get the point of the video. In case you are beng honest:

The Broccoli Tree was an actual tree - and the story is true. Much as Hokusai-sama painted many pictures of Fujizan, a photographer started sharing many photographs of the same tree, taken over time, as the natural and human environment changed around it. It was well known where the tree was. Eventually, the tree became a tourist attraction because of the art.

When it became popular enough, it became spoilt - as it appears anything does, when it receives too much human attention. Some vandal sawed its branches. Had it not been so widely shared, its beauty would likely have been there for all to enjoy. Paradoxically, had it not been so widely shared, fewer would actually have enjoyed it.

Hikers have noticed the same thing happening with beautiful places Out There; the nicest spots and the best routes get shared far and wide on social media, and the places get ruined. Either quickly, through vandalism, or slowly, through overuse - even the impact of millions of footfalls from thousands of people takes a heavy toll.

The preservationists are starting to realize that ‘limit your sharing on social media’ is just as much a conservation move as ‘travel and camp on durable surfaces’, ‘pack out everything you pack in’, or ‘be responsible with fire.’ Hence the call for an eighth principle, ‘be mindful of the impact of social media.’


No, it was honest. I went to the tree site mistakenly thinking it was the same as the vid and didn’t watch the vid. Once I watched the vid back here, I got it. My bad.

I found it thought-provoking, because I do some outdoor photography myself. I might not be very good at it, but I have sold the occasional picture to tourist magazines (the sort that they give away at turnpike rest stops), health magazines (of the sort you find stacked in doctors’ waiting rooms) and what not.

I now realize that I need to ask myself, before posting this kind of picture, whether I’m improving the world or damaging it. On the one hand, the great many people who would not be up to the rigors of climbing to that ledge get to enjoy the vista; on the other hand, I might be attracting the one nether orifice who might, for instance, destroy the route by wrecking the hand- and footholds.

(reshared because in this case the damage is done, I think, the picture has been out there for a while.)


Well, that was my daily dose of despair. Off to work.


Well, when they started out, they weren’t really that in touch with each other, what with being several years apart in age and John having gone to boarding school. So their whole YouTube career basically started as video diaries in the form of correspondence to each other.

Now, that’s just the format, because it stuck. Like things do.

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In 2007, they started a project to get closer to each other, and so they decided never to send messages to each other by text. All their remote communication had to happen via videos, which they posted online. It’s rather sweet.

The parable I take from this is, everything humans touch is destroyed or turns to garbage. One may say, “Oh, but the art, the magnificent art”, and another may say, “Only the eyes of a human can find such beauty in a tree.” Even another might say, “Without humans, this tree would be insignificant.” As if without human confirmation, the tree is does not even exist. I say fuck that bullshit. It didn’t turn out very well for the tree and once again humans destroyed it and ruined the natural beauty of a single tree, just living and being a tree.


I’ve backpacked to numerous remote and wild places. I have taken quite a few photos of locations that are frequently visited, such as Mt. Whitney that I have shared. But I have a lifetime of photos of very remote and secluded places that will never see the light of day other than what I have shared with family and friends. That’s between myself and whomever I was with, many times being solo, and that one special location.

pics or it didn’t happen


Yeah, show us all these pictures, and we’ll decide for ourselves whether they’ve ever seen the light of day, thank you very much.

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Monster. But what’s that got to do with broccoli?

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