This Instagrammer is unapologetically shaming people into protecting California's Joshua Trees.

Joshua Tree National Park, an 800,000-acre nature preserve located about 130 miles east of Los Angeles, made news earlier this year as a victim of the 35-day government shutdown.

During the shutdown, many of the park rangers and staff were furloughed, leaving a large portion of the sprawling park unattended. This opened the pristine landscape to vandalism, camp fires, and illegal off-roading.

A few of the park’s iconic Joshua trees were destroyed during the shutdown as well.


Even though the shutdown is over and the park is fully staffed, the massive reserve is still susceptible to damage created by its visitors and their pets.

The park's namesake are its spiky trees with whirling branches that resemble vegetation in a Dr. Suess book. Joshua Trees can live to about 150 years, but some of the park’s largest trees may be much older.

Although they are called trees, the Joshuas are actually succulents with shallow root systems, so they're easily be damaged by people climbing, hanging, or pulling yoga poses on their limbs.

To help preserve the National Park’s fragile desert environment, an Instagmmer by the name of @JohsuaTreeHatesYou (JTHY) has been calling out tourists who disrespect the park rules via the “gospel of shame.”

JTHY’s favorite targets are tourists striking yoga poses while trampling on the delicate landscape in an attempt to spirituality signal their way into Instagram likes.

"Gone are the days of climbers and hikers who are familiar with nature and experience it to get away from the world, and without leaving a footprint," the anonymous Instagrammer told Upworthy via email.

"This new era of tourists come for the fashion show and Instagram likes," they continued. "They couldn't care less about destroying the place they claim to have had a 'magical' experience" in."

Although some may disagree with JTHY’s condescending, aggressive tone, we can all agree the Instagrammer is doing right by calling attention to the importance of preserving this delicate ecosystem.

After dutifully shaming Instagrammers for their photos in the comments section, JTHY will often educate them on the Joshua Tree:

Yucca brevifolia is a plant species belonging to the genus Yucca. It is tree-like in habit, which is reflected in its common names: Joshua tree, Yucca Palm, Tree Yucca, and Palm Tree Yucca.

Joshua Trees only grow in one place on Earth- the Mojave Desert (southeast California, Nevada, Utah and Arizona.) The root system of a Joshua tree is incredibly shallow. Repeated abuse by tourists, (over three million visitors a year,) is slowly causing their demise, bringing them closer to being added to the endangered list. Joshua trees take roughly 60 years to mature, and can live up to 500+ years! The trunk consists of thousands of small fibers, and lacks annual growth rings. Its top-heavy weight is a recipe for disaster due to its shallow roots.

Hanging, climbing, sitting, swinging, standing, leaning, touching, hugging, supporting your yoga poses, hanging hammocks (or anything else,) on these PROTECTED succulents- (Joshua trees are not actually trees,) are all violations of County and City law…Not to mention incredibly dangerous for the Joshua trees themselves. Any sort of weight or pressure on the branch of a Joshua tree can cause it to break or fall over completely. See a dead one? Leave that alone as well. Dead trees become habitats for local wildlife whether they are still standing or on the ground.

Please be mindful and refrain from contributing to their extinction - you are NOT the ONLY person thinking it may be a “good idea” to use a Joshua tree as an Instagram photo prop!

Here are just a few of JTH's posts along with their comments.

"Just get over yourself already. A protected plant is actually more important than your Instagram likes... Smh. The fuck is wrong with people. "

via JoshuaTreeHatesYou / Instagram

Well at least we know who's responsible.... For deleting comments instead of their dumb photo.

via JoshuaTreeHatesYou / Instagram

Anyone want to gift this lady a scholarship to Zoolander's School for Kids who can't read good? I'll never understand assholes like these...

via JoshuaTreeHatesYou / Instagram

Submitted by a loyal follower, and simply hysterical.

via JoshuaTreeHatesYou / Instagram

Oh... You know... Just throwing hatchets at Joshua Trees.

via JoshuaTreeHatesYou / Instagram

Actions such as hanging from branches, climbing, sitting on branches, leaning on branches, supporting your yoga poses on trunks, hanging hammocks from branches, and standing on these PROTECTED trees are all things that are incredibly dangerous for them. They are in fact, a succulent- not a tree. Their roots are shallow, and repeated abuse by tourists, dangered list, which is why they are PROTECTED BY LAW.

via JoshuaTreeHatesYou / Instagram

Dead or alive, we prefer to have our trees standing if possible. It looks pretty, others can enjoy it, and animals can continue to use it as their habitat and as a safe place away from predators. If you want to claim something, learn to rock climb. There are plenty of organizations and guides that will help you on your journey.

via JoshuaTreeHatesYou / Instagram

Joshua Tree National Park is not here for you to have a 30 second "spiritual experience" while posing for an Instagram photo. Protected wildlife is not there as a photo prop. You can't handle this, then please venture elsewhere. The desert deserves better.

via JoshuaTreeHatesYou / Instagram

When your soul is darker than a black steer's tuckus on a moonless prairie night. Actions such as hanging from branches, climbing, sitting on branches, leaning on branches, supporting your yoga poses on trunks, hanging hammocks from branches, and standing on these PROTECTED trees are all things that are incredibly dangerous for them.

via JoshuaTreeHatesYou / Instagram

Please don't dump paint all over the rocks.

via JoshuaTreeHatesYou / Instagram

@subaru_usa pulling a @reebokclassics and using Joshua Tree abuse to promote their product. Did you have a permit to film? No. A ranger would not have let. This happen.

via JoshuaTreeHatesYou / Instagram

Pretty much over this whole "I abuse Joshua Trees because it's Christmas" bs.

via JoshuaTreeHatesYou / Instagram

Work on your balance, don't endanger a Joshua Tree. SO tired of these cliché tourist photos. Smh.

via JoshuaTreeHatesYou / Instagram

Karen A. and Karen B. seem to think that posing on Joshua Trees is cool. You suck, Karens. Most of the submissions we receive are like this--copycat "models" doing anything for Instagram likes. The is a national park, respect it, you fucking plebs.

via JoshuaTreeHatesYou / Instagram

Shout out to @what.joshua.trees.think for this amazing post

via JoshuaTreeHatesYou / Instagram

Please don't litter in #jtnp, there are designated trash receptacles available in multiple campgrounds. Keep your #trash off our trees.

via JoshuaTreeHatesYou / Instagram

Posts that make their way to the feed come only after multiple attempts to inform the "park violator" of their misdeeds.

"Before any post is made, featuring a park or Joshua Tree violation, we make multiple attempts at polite education," JTHY told Upworthy. "If they STILL refuse to be educated, delete comments and block people, then their photo is captioned and posted. The entire goal is to get them to delete their post before it comes to this."

JTHY's game of Instagram whack-a-mole is important because every time someone posts a photo of themselves hurting the national park's natural landscape it's like pouring gasoline on a fire.

"Destroying Joshua Trees out of ignorance has become an Instagram craze and an enormous problem," JTHY told Upworthy. "It's quite literally an Instagram fad to take a photos while hanging and/or climbing on Joshua Trees. So if that post stays up, more people see it, and the fad continues to perpetuate itself."

via Jessie Eastland / Wikimedia Commons

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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It's one thing to see a little kid skateboarding. It's another to see a stereotype-defying little girl skateboarding. And it's entirely another to see Paige Tobin.

Paige is a 6-year-old skateboarding wonder from Australia. A recent video of her dropping into a 12-foot bowl on her has gone viral, both for the feat itself and for the style with which she does it. Decked out in a pink party dress, a leopard-print helmet, and rainbow socks, she looks nothing like you'd expect a skater dropping into a 12-foot bowl to look. And yet, here she is, blowing people's minds all over the place.

For those who may not fully appreciate the impressiveness of this feat, here's some perspective. My adrenaline junkie brother, who has been skateboarding since childhood and who races down rugged mountain faces on a bike for fun, shared this video and commented, "If I dropped in to a bowl twice as deep as my age it would be my first and last time doing so...this fearless kid has a bright future!"

It's scarier than it looks, and it looks pretty darn scary.

Paige doesn't always dress like a princess when she skates, not that it matters. Her talent and skill with the board are what gets people's attention. (The rainbow socks are kind of her signature, however.)

Her Instagram feed is filled with photos and videos of her skateboarding and surfing, and the body coordination she's gained at such a young age is truly something.

Here she was at three years old:

And here she is at age four:


So, if she dropped into a 6-foot bowl at age three and a 12-foot bowl at age six—is there such a thing as an 18-foot bowl for her to tackle when she's nine?

Paige clearly enjoys skating and has high ambitions in the skating world. "I want to go to the Olympics, and I want to be a pro skater," she told Power of Positivity when she was five. She already seems to be well on her way toward that goal.

How did she get so good? Well, Paige's mom gave her a skateboard when she wasn't even preschool age yet, and she loved it. Her mom got her lessons, and she's spent the past three years skating almost daily. She practices at local skate parks and competes in local competitions.

She also naturally has her fair share of spills, some of which you can see on her Instagram channel. Falling is part of the sport—you can't learn if you don't fall. Conquering the fear of falling is the key, and the thing that's hardest for most people to get over.

Perhaps Paige started too young to let fear override her desire to skate. Perhaps she's been taught to manage her fears, or maybe she's just naturally less afraid than other people. Or maybe there's something magical about the rainbow socks. Whatever it is, it's clear that this girl doesn't let fear get in the way of her doing what she wants to do. An admirable quality in anyone, but particularly striking to see in someone so young.

Way to go, Paige. Your perseverance and courage are inspiring, as is your unique fashion sense. Can't wait to see what you do next.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less