Welcome to Internet Diaries, a monthly interview series that asks the internet's favourite people where and how they spend their time online. What are the niche accounts they follow? The platforms they can’t get enough of? The apps they can’t live without? The corners of the internet they call home? Brittany Broski answers all these questions, and more — including the details of her days as a 1D fanfiction writer.
Even if you don't know 24-year-old Brittany Broski’s name, you definitely know her face. Specifically, you know what she looked like when she first tasted kombucha. The Texas-born creator is one of TikTok’s original American superstars and she now hosts the platform’s official podcast, For You. She’s done a lot of growing up in public: After rising to TikTok superstardom as Kombucha Girl, she also made headlines for mistakenly conflating AAVE with “internet slang.” It was a mistake she soon apologised for, turning into a lesson for white creators and internet users everywhere. Simply put: There is no understanding TikTok, internet culture, or anything online today without understanding Brittany Broski. She’s taken her growing pains in stride and continues to cackle with glee through her rise.
Michelle Santiago Cortés: How many hours a day would you say you spend online? Is there a difference between professional online time and your personal online time?
Brittany Broski: Hours of a day? Let's pull up my screen time. That's actually a great question… It says the daily average is about nine hours. But there was one day, this last Thursday, I was on it for 14 hours. So that's humiliating.
MSC: Is there a distinction for you between work online-time or personal online-time? Is there ever a moment when you're online and it really has nothing to do with the version of you most people know?
BB: I find myself wanting to maintain a sense of anonymity after having all these public accounts. I have gone back to Tumblr of all places, because Tumblr isn’t as inundated with celebrities and brands and this and that. It's gone through a lot of changes in the last couple of years, but my Tumblr is private. It has no inkling of my name or likeness anywhere around it and bitch, it's my sanctuary! Because everywhere else says my name with a verified checkmark. There is no way to distinguish between what is my online persona and what is actually me. So I've made this childlike regression back to Tumblr, because I was on Tumblr as a teenager all the time.
MSC: I'm obsessed with that because I've written a lot about Tumblr recently, especially with Tumblr porn nostalgia. Like, if you're going to be about Tumblr porn, I got you.
BB: That was tea, too!
MSC: What kind of Tumblr person were you back then, and what kind are you now?
BB: Back in the day, I was definitely like, Arctic Monkeys, The 1975. I mean, I literally have a 1975 poster on my wall. But I grew up with a really strict military dad, and I had siblings, and it was very much like, “If I ever catch you with a cigarette, I will spank you!” And, "You're 15 years old!" — that sort of thing. But, oh bitch, that was my dream! The ripped fishnets and like the dark makeup and the... Oh, I loved it all!
And then, you know those weird emo Simpsons screengrabs of Bart Simpson, a lot of that. Yeah. I thought I was Miss-Alt-Indie-Rocker-Girl. And then at the same time was — like deep, deep — the One Direction fandom. It was a lot of like, "I wish I was dead." And then a Harry Styles GIF.
BB: Well, I could talk to you about fanfiction for HOURS. I used to write fanfiction. I wrote Robert Downey Jr. and I wrote...
MSC: Like Sherlock Holmes Robert Downey Jr.? Or Avengers Robert Downey Jr.?
BB: Like, young 1980s Robert Downey Jr.
MSC: Oh! Like Sarah Jessica Parker's boyfriend-Robert Downey Jr.!
BB: Literally! When he used to do those cheesy romcoms, I was like, He's the one. And then I also wrote a vampire Harry Styles fanfiction, but we don't talk about that one.
MSC: I'm dead! So right now, what's your Tumblr like? What are you getting into?
BB: I was deep into The Mandalorian fanfiction or fandom. And I don't know... on Tumblr, I don't want to care what my Tumblr feed looks like, I just want to reblog what I want to reblog. So, it's a lot of all my favourite things. It's kind of like my happy place. It's got Beyoncé on there and art history and architecture and travel and memes and whatever. It's just a good conglomerate.
MSC: Are there any major trends that you’ve gotten into?
BB: That weird era of "When I turned 18, I'm moving to London." That was me, bitch. [laughs] I was into British Tumblr. I had the British flag phone case, British flag pillowcases. Oh my gosh. So humiliating. I have a record player that's a British flag from that time period. It's just like, that was me, that was who I thought I was.
MSC: So you've been very online since like what age you would say? Like high school?
BB: 12. But I made my Twitter account in 2009 and I was born in '97 and my first ever username was JBluvaforeva for Justin Bieber. After "One Time" came out, I was like, "This is it." And I literally solely made a Twitter for the purpose of following Justin Bieber.
MSC: So zooming back a bit, of everything you do online, what's the niche-est, far-out account creator, trend, or subculture that you've either recently been into or have always been into?
BB: Probably, just fanfiction in general. I feel like that's really laughable, but that was... I mean, I have never felt more seen than on TikTok with people talking openly in the comment sections about like, "Do you all remember this and that fan fiction?" I'm like, "Yes, I used to read those." And people are shocked when I, as someone with a public platform, talk about it, because that's humiliating. If you were online for your formative years, fanfiction played a huge role, if you were a teenage girl.
MSC: What is a recent account that you followed that you're really into?
BB: You know, I don't really like to name people by name, because I have this curse where I'll be like, "Blah blah blah is my favourite creator," and then they'll get cancelled a week later. And then now I'm on record saying that I love that person. So I don't really like to shout-out specific people. But, last night I will have you know, I was scrolling through TikTok and this girl makes gel wax candles. So they're see-through, and I was on her fucking page for about 45 minutes. And then that led me into slime and I was watching slime videos until about 4am. So, that is humiliating. And I do find myself doing that more often than I want to admit, but I get into little things like that. Like crafts, I love little TikTok crafts. This a guilty pleasure. I love people on TikTok who do those acting period pieces, but it's like a duet.
BB: Yes! He'll do the black-and-white filter and he'll dress up in a tux and he'll be like, "You look stunning." Oh my God, I fucking died. And I go through all the duets of people acting, they're so serious. They think this the fucking acting audition reel for the motherfucking Oscars, bitch! I go through those and I live!
MSC: What was the last meme that truly floored you and made you stop in your tracks?
BB: We are in a meme recession right now. Nothing is hitting the way that it used to. My friend, Nick, and I talk about this all the time because he's a TikTokker too. We're like, "Just TikTok isn't hitting the same. And memes, these post-ironic memes just aren't the same."
You know what, on Instagram, they do those old-head Facebook memes. Where they'll take a text post from Facebook and they'll edit it and then type in their own stuff. Some of those are so deeply personal and people run these anonymous meme accounts and they're just administrators on it. And it's like a 16-year-old, non-binary, high school student and they'll post something that will just hit me in the chest. And it's, "Haha a meme on Instagram." But it'll be something about an eating disorder and I'll relate to it. Or it'll be something about needing validation from men. And I'm just like, the internet makes me feel so alienated, but so seen at the same time.
MSC: It can make you feel a little too seen. If you're spending your time online is because you do not want to be perceived. Then the algorithm goes ahead and perceives you!
BB: That! And my issue which, I don't know, I used to post online just to get my thoughts out there, never hoping anyone would see them as kind of like a public diary. And then people started seeing them. So that's the issue that I run into, too. It's like when the For You page becomes so personalised. But also my shit is getting pushed out and I'm like, "No, no, no. Delete!"
MSC: I read one of your interviews recently with Bustle and you talked about how you're a comfort person for a lot of people online. Who are your comfort people or accounts or trends or themes?
BB: Oh, I've got a couple. Well, Harry Styles is one of them, for sure. That's why I can never meet him. Harry, Cody, and Noel, love them. Again, I'm scared to like say names because what if they go down tomorrow. I love Rosalia, I watch her videos. She's very calming and she's so talented and her music is so raw and I'm just like... I watch her on YouTube a lot when I'm feeling sad. Who else? Matty Healy, one of my comfort people, for sure. I'm like, "Let me look at my wall." Yeah. That's pretty much it. I like to watch SpongeBob when I'm feeling sad, too.