Yale is a mysterious place. From whispers of society parties to screams from the Bass Naked Run, there always seems to be some campus tradition that’s equal parts confusing and intriguing. 

Hi! My name is Eliza, and I’m a sophomore in Pierson College studying comparative literature. I’m one of many Yale students with puzzling backgrounds. I’m trained as a butcher, and I love tofu. I’m Jewish, and my mom’s last name is Church. I’m American, and I went to an international school for 10 years. I quote Proust just as much as I quote Season 8 of Love Island. 

I know all too well that there’s a lot more to people, places and things than meets the eye. And that’s why I love Yale. You can never fully understand everything going on here, but you can try! And that’s what Enigma, this column, is all about — digging deeper into these pressing questions and providing much needed answers.

Social media. Let’s dissect the term. Social, in that we as people desire companionship and community. Media, in that we communicate digitally. But what happens when an anonymous group of Yalies is the community?

Enter: Fizz. The mobile app was founded by two Stanford dropouts who wanted to build a college community amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. It provided an anonymous forum for campus discourse, where users with verified Stanford.edu emails could start, continue, upvote or downvote a conversation.

The app has since spread to over 80 institutions across the country, according to the Stanford Daily. And in August of 2022, Fizz came to Yale. Since then, it has blossomed into a vibrant platform that many students engage with regularly. Most Yalies find the highly specific content entertaining. 

If you’re wondering what kind of content goes viral on Fizz, I’ll direct your attention to the “Top” tab on the home screen. Today, the first post I see is captioned, “In case you are having a hard time, here is a video of a squirrel to cheer you up!” This week’s top post screams “PETITION FOR YALE DINING TO BRING BACK BREAKFAST PASTRIES!!” 

A particularly well-loved post is a photograph of someone on the Old Campus Spring Fling stage last year, before it got rained out. The anonymous caption boasts, “I got more stage time than pusha t” and the picture has 2,400 upvotes. The most popular post of all time depicts the winning Yale Football Team holding up a “For Sale: Harvard College” sign. Its caption reads, “This picture is honestly legendary” and more than 2,500 people agree. 

But I’ve always wondered, who are the people behind the posts? What kind of Yale student goes viral on this platform? 

I knew exactly where I needed to go to explore this enigma: the Fizz leaderboard. Every user has accumulated a certain amount of “Karma” while using Fizz. When a post is upvoted, a user’s Karma increases. The leaderboard tracks these points, indicating who has had the most quantifiable virality.

Even though posting itself is anonymous, you can choose to identify yourself on the leaderboard by a name and a profile picture. So, I did some in-app research into the highest ranking Fizz celebrities who had somewhat identified themselves. Then, I directly messaged them through a feature in the app.

I wasn’t sure whether or not I’d get any engagement from these anonymous, enigmatic Fizz celebrities at all. At a certain point, I thought this story would remain an unsolvable mystery. But within seven minutes of my initial messages, I got a response.

FizzGod is ranked second in the last 60 days and thirteenth overall, with 115,082 Karma points. That’s extremely impressive. For reference, I’ve had about 3 relatively viral Fizz posts, and I’m sitting at 5,643 Karma points. That represents a mere twentieth of FizzGod’s six figure total.

We corresponded over DMs for a bit, and I did my best to feel out how comfortable they were sharing details with me. After about nine exchanges, I decided to shoot my shot. And FizzGod, surprisingly enough, agreed to meet with me in person.

In the blustery morning drizzle, standing underneath the Beinecke plaza arch with a green umbrella, I saw a figure rolling toward me at a steady pace. In our messages, FizzGod had mentioned that they’d be skateboarding to our interview, so I waved them over. Right away, I was starstruck. 

Let’s rewind. About a week ago, an anonymous account posted a photo of some guy mewing (if you haven’t heard this term, look it up, because I’m not qualified to explain it). The caption reads “bronson is deadass my spirit animal [crying emoji, crying emoji, crying emoji]” and the post received 50 upvotes. 

But a repost, which reads “i like how it’s a known fact bronson posts himself on fizz [crying emoji, crying emoji]” has 1,900 upvotes. From there, the Fizz community began lots of Bronson-related discourse. 

I wondered, are FizzGod and Bronson Hooper, Class of ’27, one in the same? 

“Yeah, that’s me!” Bronson responded. He has been on Fizz since September of last year, when a friend recommended he join. He posted for the first time in October. As we’ve established, he’s become known by Fizz-ers far and wide quite recently. 

You might wonder, like I did, where does the name FizzGod come from? Why not just stick with Bronson? Here’s the origin story from his perspective: “I was making a joke with my friend. He sent me a meme, or an IG reels or something, saying “rizz god, rizz god” and it clicked. FizzGod!”

Bronson opened the app to show me Fizz from his perspective. I peeked over his shoulder, incredulous. “Your DMs are kind of crazy,” I remarked. He smiled. “Most of them are just from random posts.” He scrolled past dozens of messages and navigated to the Fizzin’ page, which acts as a trending tab for the app.

“I mean, it is crazy. Half the posts on Fizzin’ are me sometimes.” I asked him to show me. In a span of twenty posts, he claimed authorship of three. Even though none of these had the FizzGod handle, he confirmed each one in his personal profile of posts. 

Another niche of Fizz content that I’ve yet to mention is questions about sexuality. I asked FizzGod what he thought about risqué topics in tandem with anonymity. “Most of the stuff I post on there I would say in real life,” Bronson told me. “It’s not like I’m hiding … some people use it to hide, some people use it as a form of expression. I just find it funny.” 

Bronson is an interesting case of someone who has gone viral anonymously and as an identifiable campus figure. According to him, it was kind of an accident. “I was just messing around, posting one of my IG pictures,” he said. “A lot of my viral Fizz posts are fake. Or fabricated, I’ll say.” 

I found it interesting that parts of his non-anonymous success were, as he put it, fabricated. But some may say that Bronson is just playing the game. “If you ReFizz your own content, you get to promote the original post, and then you get upvotes on [the ReFizz] too,” he added.

Here are Bronson’s final words of Fizz advice. “I’d say, just have fun. Life is too short to try to be something you’re not and to put yourself in a box.” Later, he told me that he aspires to build a time machine, and to start an aerospace company. “I feel like if I can pursue my dreams confidently, I can inspire others to do the same.”

Wise words from FizzGod. He has strong passions he wants to explore, plus an interesting assortment of experiences on campus. Bronson, who hopes to unravel the world’s enigmas someday, is enigmatic himself. Readers, I encourage you to remember that behind the allure of viral Fizz celebrities, is inevitably another Yalie, and a potential friend.

I stopped recording our conversation, and Bronson skated away into the fog lingering over Cross Campus. After he was no longer visible, I instinctively checked Fizz. In the span of two days, my direct messages had gone from response-less to completely full. I’d like to share a couple testimonials of other highly ranked Fizz-ers for a more wide-ranging perspective of the app.

Average Gatsby is third overall on the Karma Leaderboard, with 300,254 cumulative points. They explained that they were trying to take a break from Fizz, which is why it took them a while to get back to me. When I asked why, this is what they said:

“As someone who used to post a lot, I would often see how desperate people would get trying to farm likes and engagement with non-funny posts that sometimes devolved into racism or targeted harassment of student groups. It was just sad to look at because I thought Yale students were better than that, so I started using the platform less.”

I would be remiss to not acknowledge this darker side to Fizz. Average Gatsby has a great point, anonymity can be a dangerous tool if placed into the wrong hands. They told me that they are a moderator on Fizz, and they are doing what they can to make sure every post adheres to Fizz’s code of conduct. 

I’m sure there’s some sort of symbolic, high-school level green light metaphor I could insert here, but I’ll refrain. All in all, it’s nice to know that Average Gatsby is behind the scenes helping to make Fizz a safer app for student use. 

I’ve saved my final DM correspondence for last, and you’ll see why. I feel incredibly lucky that I got a response from Daniel el Guapo, who is by far the highest ranked user on Fizz, with 1,183,305 Karma points. They are ahead of Above Average Gatsby, second highest ranked user overall, by a staggering 800,000 points.

When I asked Daniel el Guapo how they’d categorize their content, they responded, “I don’t have a focus, I just post whatever dumb thing occurs to me at the moment … I’ve never actively tried to get likes, it just happened,” they continued. “When I first downloaded Fizz, there was no leaderboard, then one day they added it and I was already on it… but I literally dgaf. I just post for fun and I actually spend very little time on here.”

Daniel’s approach almost feels too good to be true. It seems like the most successful users on the app try to be authentically funny, but they also have to play the game. About a week ago, the same Daniel el Guapo account reposted some Bronson discourse with the caption, “I’m Bronson” which I can neither confirm nor deny.

As the most popular user, numerically, Daniel el Guapo told me that they receive lots of questions from people who want their advice about how to increase upvotes. “I have none to offer,” they wrote, “because it’s not something I even think or care about. It’s all just random, very stupid stuff. My posts vary so much in content that at this point I’m certain I’ve both offended and made the broad spectrum of people at this school laugh, but none of it is serious.”

Here’s what I’m taking away from this extensive investigation. The people behind the posts all seem to agree that their Fizz fame isn’t everything. Bronson says to be authentic, but play the game. Average Gatsby is wary of anonymity’s evils. Daniel el Guapo doesn’t want to spend too much time dwelling on things. 

Yale Fizz is uniquely powerful, because it has the ability to connect our campus community. But the app can’t escape classic social media issues of performativity and harassment. At the end of the day, I think all three viral Fizz sensations would agree that the app is primarily about having fun. No matter how far down you doom scroll, remember that it’s really not that deep.

Eliza Josephson writes personal essays for the WKND desk as a staff reporter, ranging from contemplative memoir to light hearted satire. Originally from New York City, she is a sophomore in Pierson majoring in Comparative Literature.