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Illustration Tessa Paisan

Brittany Broski’s new podcast explores the wildest corners of the internet

The viral comedian and social media star talks launching the Violating Community Guidelines podcast with Sarah Schauer, growing up online, and 2022’s ‘meme recession’

Remember when going on the internet simply meant flipping open your Nokia smartphone, logging onto MSN messenger, or illegally burning CDs off LimeWire? Those days seem far away in today’s hyper-connected age, along with the internet’s endless wasteland of subcultures, NFT creators, and TikTok dances that come with it. Now, aiming to transport listeners to the wildest and weirdest corners of the internet is Violating Community Guidelines: a podcast hosted by comedian and social media star Brittany Broski (AKA ‘Kombucha Girl’ from her viral 2019 TikTok of her tasting kombucha for the first time) and her roommate, content creator Sarah Schauer.

Alongside personal anecdotes and comedic ramblings, Violating Community Guidelines provides deep dives into “shadowbanned, taboo, or downright weird content” that you won’t see on your FYP – from firearm sales on Facebook to AI influencers on Instagram and deepfakes on TikTok. “We’re here to teach you about all the horrible parts of the internet,” Broski tells Dazed. “Things that exist, but people don’t really know about.”

The podcast is fitting for the 24-year-old Texas-born comedian, who – since losing her bank job because of her kombucha video – has quickly risen to social media stardom in the past two years. When she’s not posting viral TikToks dressing up as a cow to see Harry Styles in concert, impersonating Love Island contestants, and cackling at her own jokes, Broski has kept busy, collaborating with drag queen Trixie Mattel on YouTube, starring in a Super Bowl commercial, and hosting TikTok’s official podcast For You

Below, we speak to Brittany Broski about Violating Community Guidelines’ wildest deep dives, the internet’s “meme recession”, and her current online obsessions – from cringey post-ironic memes to TikTok salsa influencers.

Your fans have been asking for a project with you and Sarah Schauer for a while – how did Violating Community Guidelines come about?

Brittany Broski: I moved to LA in December of 2019 because I tweeted and said, “Thinking about moving to LA, does anyone want to live with me?” and Sarah tweeted back and said “I’ll do it!” We moved in, and made one video together, then it kind of just took off. Our dynamic was there, we have a similar sense of humour, and we have a lot to bond over because we’re both children of the internet. Throughout the pandemic we leaned into it, making a bunch of videos together, and (fans) loved it. 

A lot of our friends in the creative space were doing podcasts, so we started to talk about what that would look like. We both came to this agreement that because we both know things about online culture that the average person really doesn’t, we want to get into how that has affected us as adults. We came up with this idea, Violating Community Guidelines, and since the both of us have had plenty of experience being deleted and shadow banned because of the stuff we choose to post online, it just fit perfectly.

“You have to factor in all the things that have come and gone, like think of all the things that we had before TikTok –Vine, YikYak, FourChan, Reddit. All of these things made up this awful soup that is internet culture.” - Brittany Broski

You stated that this isn’t content that you’d see on your For You Page. Could you please walk me through some of the weirdest or wildest subcultures that you talk about on the podcast?

Brittany Broski: Oh yeah. Did you know there’s people who sell their bath water? On FB marketplace people will sell art made out of toenails, old panties, guns. The selling part of the internet aside – let’s say cosplayers or there’s a whole sub-community of people who think they are spiderman or think they are from Star Wars. At a certain part you have to be made fun of, although, we don’t want it to come off as, “Look how fucking weird these people are,” – that’s not the point. (it’s) more like, “Look at where we’ve evolved to in society.” You have to factor in all the things that have come and gone, like think of all the things that we had before TikTok – Vine, YikYak, FourChan, Reddit. All of these things made up this awful soup that is internet culture. 

How long have you been spending time online?

Brittany Broski: I started to become a consumer of online culture around middle school. I made my first Twitter account in 2008, it’s wild. I’ve subjected myself to this shit for way longer than I should have, especially during my formative years. 

Do you remember your first internet rabbit hole or favourite subcultures from back when you started spending time online? 

Brittany Broski: Back in sixth grade, Fred on YouTube was my first obsession. I had his merch, I used to wait for new videos from him, I watched all of his movies. Looking back now, I’m like, “WTF?” Now, the age of playing a character online is dead. People want to see the ‘authentic you’ – your real personality and all that bullshit. We want to do an episode about early YouTube – it was the wild fucking west, bitch. Stuff like that was what I was raised on.

And what internet spaces, subcultures, or trends do you feel like you’re a part of now? 

Brittany Broski: I’m into shitty Instagram memes right now. I always post them on my story – just horribly recycled cringey post-ironic ones. They’ll be like, “Damn I need my ass ate, LOL,” and I’ll be like, “That’s hilarious!” I can’t explain it. It’s kind of like how Comic Sans is funny, it’s because you know how unprofessional it is, so when people use it to communicate a point it’s so good. On TikTok, I like watching people clean stuff, like their bathrooms… I really don’t know why. I had an obsession a few months ago with watching people make salsa. I’d be like, “No hers doesn’t look as good as the other one,” what am I doing? I’m at the mercy of my FYP now. A few years ago, I feel like you had to seek this stuff out, but now it’s hand delivered to me on a silver platter. They know how weird I am, and they just hand feed it to me. 

“I’m at the mercy of my FYP now. A few years ago, I feel like you had to seek this stuff out, but now it’s hand delivered to me on a silver platter. They know how weird I am, and they just hand feed it to me.“ - Brittany Broski

You previously stated that the world’s in a “meme recession” right now. From the perspective of someone who went viral as a meme, what do you think of memes in 2022?

Brittany Broski: That era of “there’s a meme of the month” from around 2019 has ended. I think that stan culture has a lot to do with it because of the idea of the reaction image. If you go on Twitter and scroll through any replies, it’s all just pictures of like Nicki Minaj, Doja Cat, screenshots from TV shows – it has taken over in that sense. I think memes being videos now has also affected it. Like, “Have you seen that one TikTok?” That’s how every meme starts now – it stems from one TikTok and is translated into other things.

I think my kombucha video kind of started that because a lot of people didn’t know what TikTok was before that, and that video had the TikTok watermark on it. We’re in the age of the video meme, and there are just so many fucking videos online at any given point that it’s hard to make everyone converge on one now. I think internet culture is changing, and we’re in a meme recession because we just don’t know what to do with it. It’s exhausting to really think about. 

Why do you feel like right now is the right time for this kind of deep dive into different corners of the internet? 

Brittany Broski: I think it’s time to do a little introspection and retrospection of, “Where are we in online culture and when did we get here?” This shit has been going on since the early 2000s, and I don’t think people really realise that we’re 20 plus years into it. There are things happening now that – unless you’re a part of these subcultures – you have no idea (about) because the internet is so big. I think if there was ever a perfect time it’s now, in the age of everyone being online. 

What do you hope that your listeners take away from the podcast? 

Brittany Broski: I hope that they’re intrigued, a little disgusted, and very informed. The thing about the subject matter is, this isn’t John Green’s The Anthropocene Reviewed, right? I want you to walk away from this thinking, “Why do I know about this now?” That, a few laughs and a whole lot of disgust… that’s really what we want to do here. 

Violating Community Guidelines is available to stream now. Listen to episode one, “Facebook Marketplace”, here.