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The Broccoli Tree and the dangers of sharing photos of the places you love online

Filed Under News: Digital Photography Review

Landscape, wildlife, and adventure photographers (among others) will often keep their most treasured locations and subjects secret. And while this might seem rude or selfish or mean, the tale of The Broccoli Tree in Sweden—told beautifully in a recent vlogbrothers video by best-selling author John Green—explains exactly why this practice might also be necessary.

The Broccoli Tree, for those who aren't familiar, is (or was) a tree in Huskvarna, Sweden that somehow became social media famous.

Photographing this tree became a passion project of photographer Patrik Svedberg, and over the course of 4+ years, the tree gained quite a following on Instagram. In fact, it kind of became Insta-famous so-to-speak, accruing over 31,000 followers to date.

But Insta-fame comes with consequences in this day and age. No matter how beautiful or inspiring, no matter how much joy something brings to the general populace, there will always be those people who get some deluded self-satisfaction out of destroying it.

This is what happened to The Broccoli Tree.

One day in September of 2017, Svedberg went to photograph his favorite tree, only to find that someone had sawed one of the tree's branches almost all the way through. It wasn't long before the whole tree had to be cut down.

Ever since the tree got viral a couple of years ago the number one joke has been ”what if someone cuts it down..?” Or ”What´s next, maybe you should cut it down and take photos haha.” I´ve never had good answer to that question, or joke. It´s not like we´re planted together, we live different lives the tree and I. This question was so common so I guess it was just a matter of time before some guys mentally retarded enough would crawl up from under a stone and make it happen as a part of a bet or something. Clearly it´s a obsession in lots of minds out there for some inscrutable reason. 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. I won´t be around to document it, others will for sure so I guess you lunatics who did it can enjoy every moment. You can win a bet. Get cheered at. Even get a bit infamous. Congrats. What an accomplishment. I guess you were excited like little children while you did it, must have taken quite a while. For sure you are excited now, aspecially when the word is out. Now is your moment. High fives, maybe some back slapping. Suck it in. Time will erode those memories, excitement will turn into second thoughts. But the saddest thing of all, however You absolutely cannot un-saw a tree. ----- I leave the judgement to others and have to move on to work, you can talk to each other about this below of course, but I feel for now this is what I have to say in this matter. Cheer up, there will be a tomorrow after this. // Patrik

A post shared by A tree on Instagram (@thebroccolitree) on

You can hear the entire story in the video at the top of this post, although you might be surprised to find that Green's takeaway isn't that people should keep these locations a secret, or not share photos of them at all. In fact, he comes to a totally different, if somewhat melancholy, conclusion:

The truth is, if we hoard and hide what we love, we can still lose it. Only then, we're alone in the loss. You can't un-saw a tree, but you can't un-see one either. The Broccoli Tree is gone... but it's beauty, survives

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