Brittany Tomlinson misses shopping in person. A patron saint of memes and certified TikTok royalty, the 24-year-old content creator is undoubtedly digital and yet endearingly old school. She collects records from her grandparents’ house, finds vintage Rolling Stones posters at flea markets and likes to dawdle around the aisles of actual stores, offline.
“With COVID times, you can’t really like go into a store anymore to try stuff on,” Tomlinson, who is known to the internet as Brittany Broski, told HuffPost. “With online shopping, I always wait too long and then I can’t return it, because I waited too long.”
After rising to internet fame in 2019 as “Kombucha Girl” thanks to a TikTok of her trying the fermented drink, Broski has done what few other normal people that go viral have managed: stay relevant. Unlike other short-lived internet phenomenons, Broski’s been able to separate herself from the bit that made her famous and diversify the digital work she does.
While her TikTok following has become bigger than the current population of Denmark, Broski also has a successful YouTube channel. And on Jan. 10, she launched a podcast called “Violating Community Guidelines” about both wild and niche things on the internet, with longtime friend, roommate and creative collaborator Sarah Schauer. “We’re educating to a certain extent about the weird shit that we see online, or that we know exists online,” Broski said.
Making longer-form content with a paid fact-checker is a new challenge for Broski, whose TikTok videos are often short and improvised. The mix of impromptu and planned work is indicative of the ever-precarious balance between real-life Brittany and internet Brittany. This weighs on Broski, who never set out to be “famous” in the way that movie stars or Top 40 singers are famous ― and who currently exists at an intersection of cult-like “very online” internet fame and offline people who know nothing about TikTok.
“It’s a not well-known sentiment,” she said. “It’s so easy to feel like you’re not real, you’re playing a character online. Like, different versions of the same person. It is so strange.”
“Imagine having a friend that you’re like, ‘Oh my God, have you seen this meme?’ And they’re like, ‘No, I have a 401(k).’”
During the onset of the pandemic in 2020, when the internet was the only place to socialize, Broksi said the pressures of being a social media celebrity amplified.
“I had like full-blown meltdowns about it. Like the effects it has on your identity and like imposter syndrome and all that. It’s like, am I lying? Or am I just playing a character, but the character is me?” Broski said. “I found a happy medium now, I guess, but I have to take social media breaks.”
It’s during these “social media breaks” and when hanging around with her “offline friends” that Broski remembers she is, indeed, a real human person and not just a figment of the internet.
“Imagine having a friend that you’re like, ‘Oh my God, have you seen this meme?’ And they’re like, ‘No, I have a 401(k),’” she said. “When you zoom out of this microcosm that you exist in on TikTok or YouTube or Twitter, it’s like, we’re all just people trying to do our best.”
While she now lives in Los Angeles, the Texas native visits home often, and values spending time with old friends and family. During non-COVID times, she likes going to concerts and art museums and traveling to new places. And although her internet persona is fly-by-the-seat-of-her-biker shorts, Broski says in real life, she’s actually pretty Type A.
“I’m like, if I don’t make the plans, the plans aren’t going to happen,” Broski said. “I don’t play around. I plan and I plan the outfit.”
When asked to go through her favorite random items, attention to detail shines through. From Tylenol to tweezers, Broksi is always prepared, whether it’s for selfies with fans or late-night trips to Taco Bell.
HuffPost may receive a share from purchases made via links on this page. Every item is independently selected by the HuffPost Shopping team. Prices and availability are subject to change.