In sixth or seventh grade, my best friend and I were obsessed with a fanfiction called “The Fellowship of the Banana Peel.” It was pretty much what it sounds like—a reimagining of The Lord of the Rings in which the One Ring is replaced by a banana peel. We printed it out and brought it to school in one of those pocketed paper folders, reading it to each other at lunch and between classes. An ongoing bit was that bananas made Elrond sick—“The smell permeates everything,” I remember him saying sadly, repeatedly, throughout the time the Fellowship was at Rivendell.
It was so stupid. It made us so happy. I can’t find it anywhere.
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The Internet is a great facilitator of nostalgia. It remembers the things you’ve forgotten, and with just a little prompting can usually hand you the thing your mind was fumbling for—where do I know that actress from, or what’s that song that goes like “a chicka-cherry cola?” Instagram observes Throwback Thursday; Spotify suggests songs that were popular when you were in high school; there’s a pair of websites whose entire reason for existence is to play a 24-hour stream of old Nickelodeon or Cartoon Network shows from the 90s and 2000s.
But when you grow up with the Internet, inevitably some of the things you’re nostalgic for come from the Internet itself. The popular app Timehop recognizes this, showing the user photos and social media posts from the same date in past years. It’s not so much my tweets from five years ago that I want to revisit, though. It’s watching Teen Girl Squad cartoons on Homestarrunner.com huddled around a screen in the high school computer lab; playing Text Twist and Bubble Spinner in the suite of my college dorm, the cultural touchstones that were as much a part of being young, for me, as listening to Dashboard Confessional and watching The O.C. (And now you know exactly how old I am.)