Update: The man has descended the tree and officials escorted him to the hospital, according to The Seattle Times.
Oh the Internet. That vast, ephemeral, absurd network has the power to foster a sense of community around the unlikeliest subjects — from oddly poignant Twitter bots, to chaos-causing puddles, to garments that make us question everything we thought we knew.
Now the Twitterverse has turned its eyes (and screens) toward Seattle. On Tuesday morning, a man climbed to the top of an 80-foot downtown Sequoia tree, where he’s remained perched ever since.
.@heyjessibrown There will likely be traffic impacts in the area, but issue appears to be between the man and the tree.
— Seattle Police Dept. (@SeattlePD) March 22, 2016
Police and firefighters have been unsuccessfully trying to coax the man out of the tree for over 24 hours. After the man hurled apples, pine cones, and branches at onlookers, police shut down parts of Olive Way and Stewart street, according to KING5.
But the story doesn’t end there. The essence of Man in Tree — his unclear motives, his refusal to stand down — has struck a chord with people far and wide. Protestors tweeted out their support with messages like “Trees Are Not Owned, Leave Him Alone” and “All Hail the Tree King.”
— Damien Glitch (@DamienKIRO7) March 23, 2016
It didn’t take long for Twitter parody accounts to follow the man’s strange stand. Nineteen hours ago @Man_In_Tree sent its first tweet. In its short lifespan, the account has already amassed 2,187 followers, as of 8:30 a.m. Wednesday. But he’s not the only character in this tale. Around the same time @TreeMacy emerged to speak on behalf of the massive Sequoia.
Can't help I'm throwing mad shade. FFS that's what trees do! #treeguyseattle
— Macy's Tree (@TreeMacy) March 22, 2016
The chart below, from Seattle-based Simply Measured, puts the #ManInTree phenomenon in context. As a social trend, it outranks the Bernie Sanders rally in Seattle, the Greenwood explosion, and the New York Times article on Amazon’s “bruising” culture considerably. The announcement of Satya Nadella as Microsoft’s new CEO, however, was such a big social event it required its own axis.
The fate of the tree, which has been rooted in its current location across from a downtown Macy’s since 1973, is unclear. Back then, according to KIRO, it was given 4 to 1 odds of survival based on the trauma of replanting it where it currently resides. The damage it has sustained over the past day certainly won’t help.
— Ken Lambert (@SeaTimesFotoKen) March 23, 2016
The outcome for the man atop the tree remains just as unclear. But one thing is certain: The Twitterverse will be waiting with bated breath to see how this peculiar Seattle story unfolds.
Here’s more on the social media craziness surrounding ManInTree, courtesy of Simply Measured.