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In honor of Dan Howell’s recent return to the platform, I want to lighten the mood of our current world and reminisce on a time in my life, and many others, that shaped me into who I am.

If you don’t know who Dan Howell and Phil Lester are, you were probably on the normal side of the internet in 2016. For context, Dan and Phil were two guys that were creators on YouTube and had a cult following for years. They created joint content on their gaming channel and individual content (with the occasional collab) on their main channels, but what made their content so valuable to millions of young people.

They were relatable, funny, and inviting to their audience. Dan and Phil treated their fans as family, and celebrated them not in the way that tone-deaf influencers “love their fans”, they genuinely did. I found Dan and Phil when I was 9 years old and 10 years later, I still get butterflies when I get a Tweet notification or an update video.

Not only were Dan and Phil such amazing creators on a website, but this was the first time in my life I had a community of people just like me. I had friends across the world of all different backgrounds and ages that I would meet at book signings and their tours. I’ve met some of my best friends to this day through this fandom.

Of course, the Dan and Phil fans were some of the most annoying Tumblr and Twitter users, and I’ll accept the blame for a lot of that insanity, but it gave me a reason to get through every day. The thought of going through an entire day of being bullied in middle school, which is seriously the worst years of our lives, and coming home to a new Dan and Phil video that I can watch with all of my internet friends while we laugh and scream about the new content together made everything worth it. It got me to wake up every morning excited for the day.

Looking back on this time in life fills me with nothing but happiness. Yes, I was an incredibly cringe and nerdy 12-13 year old at the peak of my Dan and Phil phase (if you can even call it a phase), but it was so worth it. I don’t know if I will ever love something that passionately again. 

anthropology major who just wants to learn more about the world and everyone who lives on it. photographer who loves capturing the beauty of those in my life.
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