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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Let's check in on a nasty argument taking place on a bonsai-growing subreddit

Illustration for article titled Let's check in on a nasty argument taking place on a bonsai-growing subreddit
Photo: Klaus Tiedge (Getty Images)

Put a group of people who are passionate about any conceivable topic online together and it won’t be long before they’re tearing each other’s throats out over the most inscrutable shit. Case in point: The (apparently thriving) community of passionate bonsai growers from r/Bonsai, who are amped up and ready to go to fucking war with their fellow tree enthusiasts at the drop of a hat.

Thanks to the John Field Show, we’ve been given an inside look into—and a dramatic reading of—one of the most incendiary debates from the subreddit. The video starts with one user posting a photo of a “250-year old Ulmus,” which prompts someone from the North of England to chip in that the show-off tree is mostly “topiary pads,” admitting it has an “impressive” trunk, but that “the branch structure leaves a lot to be desired.”


Having thrown this critical grenade into the room, a user from Pennsylvania is quickly steamed up enough to reply that the old bonsai “isn’t ‘just topiary pads,’ it’s a 2 and half century old piece of art.” Later, they edit in a note that reads: “Downvote me all you want. The bonsai professionals of this sub who really think they can do better than this make no difference to me lol.”

The fight is obviously on. The English user defends their position before adding that “bonsai beginners from Pennsylvania who don’t have a clue about how to build a deciduous branch structure and who have not bothered to check my prior posts before spouting crap make no difference to me lol!”

We imagine the subreddit users watching this battle from the sidelines clicking their tiny scissors in appreciation of the clapback at this point. Things get even more heated going forward. There are insults about “your trees [leaving] a lot to be desired :/,” accusations of being a 12-year old or “butt hurt” over criticism, and, of course, one side bringing up the “Dunning-Kruger effect.” Every trademark of the internet fight is present, proving that no matter what you’re into, even if it’s sitting quietly with your own thoughts as you gently guide the growth of a tree, there’s a whole community of people ready to argue with you about it.

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Contributor, The A.V. Club. Reid's a writer and editor who has appeared at GQ, Playboy, and Paste. He also co-created and writes for videogame sites Bullet Points Monthly and Digital Love Child.