‘We’re going back to Tumblr, bitch’: Brittany Broski talks pitfalls of online relatability culture, the power of fangirls


Amaya Lobato | Staff Photographer

Brittany Broski speaks to a crowd of Pitt students gathered in the WPU Assembly Room on Wednesday.

By Tanya Babbar, Staff Writer

When Brittany Broski asked her fans, “Have y’all ever considered you’re extremely mentally ill?” a lecture room full of Pitt students cackled and cheered. Broski’s absurd and satirical commentary did not faze the audience, which she dubbed as “the power of fangirls in action.” 

The conversation between Pitt students and social media personality Brittany Broski on Wednesday night covered everything from irony poisoning and cancel-culture, to the absurd delight of A03 fanfiction. Pitt Program Council (PPC) hosted the 45-minute guided and 15-minute audience-led Q&A, and the conversation was one of niche inside jokes and critical insight about the duality of internet culture and the generation it shaped. 

Gaining viral internet fame after becoming a meme as the “Kombucha girl,” Broski has built a strong relationship with her fans. Despite her gratitude, Broski said she thinks the pressure to market herself as “relatable” is limiting. 

“I never wanted to be relatable,” Broski said. “But liking something now has to be ironic. Now I can’t escape this ironic girl label.”

With issues of censorship, miniscule creator funds and what Broski refers to as “an oversaturation” of the internet, she said she feels pressured to take brand deals. To continue to do what she loves — relating to her audience through fan-girl culture and humor – Broski has to market the “forced authenticity” she hates. 

“We’re sick of sponsors, and I do it. People are like ‘Bitch we’re sick of it.’ It’s an unfortunate reality 一 to pay my bills,” Broski said. “Even if you have an ‘edge,’ it doesn’t matter. Nothing is special anymore. The creator fund is a joke.” 

Brittany Broski speaks to a crowd of Pitt students gathered in the WPU Assembly Room on Wednesday.
(Amaya Lobato | Staff Photographer )

Broski added that it’s difficult to give tips about how to go viral on the internet. 

“I’m hyper self-aware to a fault,” Broski admitted. “When old people ask what the secret sauce is to going viral, I’m like, ‘First of all, you’re like 50. They’re so out of touch!” 

When co-moderator Nneoma Ngene, a junior undeclared major, asked, “Is it possible then, to be an authentic creator?” Broski suggested the more important question is, “Should you be?” Broski explained that when it comes to online discussions of mental health, personal vulnerability has lost its value in the face of creators using mental health issues as trends for views, often putting the responsibility onto female creators. 

While popular male creators often gain value solely for their content, female creators are often expected to be inspirational role models, another contrived way of authenticity that Broski does not want. 

“When did I sign up to be a body positive role model? Most times I am not rocking with this,” Broski said. “Kurtis Conner would never have to deal with this.” 

In regards to this double-standard, co-moderator, Sophie Runia, a first-year undeclared major, asked Broski how she deals with online hate, specifically, the misogynistic “women aren’t funny” trope.

“I don’t engage,” Broski paused. “Because I agree.” 

The audience lost it, laughing. Again, the audience understood the irony. Broski continued.

“But really, like, get your head out of your ass,” Broski said, in response to the phenomenon of misogynistic trolling. “If you go looking for hate, you’ll find it. It’s not a reflection of the world.”

For Annabeth Collins, PPC lecture director, laughter in the face of stress motivated her and the PPC Special Events committee to plan Broski as a speaker. 

“With midterms, Broski will hopefully be a moment of levity and fun and a distraction from stress,” Collins said. “That’s mental health as well, laughing and having fun.” 

When Ngene asked Broski if she had any advice for the audience “as our fearless leader,” Broski shared her wisdom.

“First order of business 一 Matty Healy,” the room erupted with laughter and whoops for the male singer of the 1975. “Second order of business, this is the only time in life where your friends, romantic partners 一 everybody is on the same block. Once you graduate, people separate. My advice? Make these lifelong friendships now. Once you’re bonded in college, you’re bonded for life.” 

Audience members looked at eachother, at their friends and roommates. Broski and Ngene did not let the silent moment of reflection hang for long, frantically yelling and laughing, “Write that down, write that down!” The audience did, in fact, write that down.

During the student Q&A, Broski shared another piece of valuable advice. When a student asked Broski about her experience with cancel culture, Broski shared the value of humility, even when feeling targeted.

“I felt so attacked that I couldn’t listen. I was embarrassed,” she said. “If you’re not looking back on yourself and cringing, then you’re not growing.” 

The internet doesn’t have to be all bad, though, Broski admitted. Although censorship, hate, and a generation of “crotchety old white men” control entertainment, Broski said she has hope for the future of content creators.

“It’s democratized art,” she said. “There will be a renaissance of media. Music to be made, plays to be written— you can make whatever you want and people will see it.”