On May 19, the UC Santa Barbara (UCSB) Associated Students (AS) Program Board hosted “Distancing with Dobrik,” a virtual Q&A event featuring social media star and TV personality David Dobrik. With more than 500 attendees, the YouTube star, accompanied by his friends, Ilya Fedorovich and Natalie Mariduena, discussed his path to fame and answered students’ questions.
Dobrik admitted his large social media following took longer to develop than most people think. When he first started making YouTube videos, he didn’t have as many views and his career initially moved slowly. “Every day felt like 48 hours,” he said.
When asked how he stayed creative and came up with new ideas, Dobrik responded that stress had been the biggest help in producing viral content. According to the YouTube star, the best moments in life happen when you love what you are doing and do it under pressure.
During the event, the chat overflowed with messages and requests from students. The most common requests mentioned Dobrik’s flamethrower, which we’ve seen him scare and prank his friends with on his YouTube channel.
After multiple requests, Dobrik brought out his flamethrower and all the attendees got to see it in action. The audience bombarded the chat with excitement and laughter as Mariduena and Fedorovich, on both sides of Dobrik, tried to get away from it.
Recognizing the massive fanbase on the chat, the interviewer asked Dobrik if he had experienced any uncomfortable encounters with “creepy fans.”
“There’s always those people that show up to my house and think they’re the exception,” Dobrik said.
Dobrik then told the story of when a fan showed up to his house and showed him a video of how he followed Dobrik on his way home and used Google Maps to track him down. The fan asked if he could post the video on YouTube, but Dobrik denied his request.
Other common and uncomfortable encounters happened when moms showed up at Dobrik’s home, begging him to meet their daughters, saying that they had recently gone through chemotherapy and wished to meet him.
These scenarios make it particularly difficult for Dobrik to turn his fans down, especially when fans explain the long drive they made to get to his house. “Those situations are pretty sad and scary,” Dobrik admitted.
As the event continued, Dobrik was asked about a 2018 visit to Isla Vista, where he partied with UCSB students. He said what he enjoyed the most was being turned down at the frat parties because it reminded him of stereotypical college party movies.
Dobrik was also asked which school is better between UCSB and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. He was quick to respond with, “UCSB, duh,” making students go crazy in the chat once more.
Although Dobrik is known for his funny and playful personality, he also empathizes with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) recipients. He finds himself connecting with them on a personal level and hopes they get the help they deserve.
“It’s crazy to think that people every day are not viewed as equal. I have high hopes that they will get help,” said Dobrik.
One of the most pleasant experiences he had with fans was meeting a group of DACA students in Texas. He was impressed by their positive attitude despite their situation and recalled the experience as “heartwarming.”
Towards the end of the event, Dobrik continued recalling some of his most memorable stories and student engagement became more prevalent. An attendee even flashed Dobrik, which caught him and the audience by surprise.
In light of the situation that UCSB’s graduating class is experiencing amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Dobrik was asked to share some words of encouragement to conclude the event.
Prefacing it as the “worst speech ever,” Dobrik ended the event with a final message to the graduating class.
“To the UCSB class of 2020: I want to say it’s been a remarkable ride watching all you guys grow and get older and get stronger. In life, there are going to be a lot of obstacles, but there is nothing better than taking naps in between difficult times, and I know that with quarantine we’ve learned that more than anything. Do not underestimate the power of a nap and I want to say one more time … congratulations to the class of 2020.”