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“They Told Me I Could Be Anything I Wanted”, sometimes known as “They Said I Could Become Anything”, is a snowclone phrase often used with portrait-style image macros to parody PTSD Clarinet Boy or to make fun of the subject’s physical appearance. The phrasal template typically takes the form of “They told me I could be anything I wanted, so I became (X).”
The first image macro using the phrase was a PTSD Clarinet Boy derivative which read, “They told me I could be anything I wanted, so I became a God.” The source image came from the single topic blog Awkward Family Photos in July of 2009.
The oldest record of the phrase “so I became a god” can be found in the Book of Isaiah, quoting Classical writer Horace’s commentary on man-made idols:
Even heathen writers long ago laughed at this folly, that men ventured to form gods according to their own fancy out of corruptible matter which they formerly despised. Hence came that jest of Horace, " Once I was a trunk of a fig-tree, a useless piece of wood, when a carpenter, uncertain whether to make a bench or a Priajus, preferred that I should be a god ; and so I became a god. (Isaiah 44:1-28)
The first instance of the captioned Clarinet Boy was posted via Digg on December 11th, 2009. On the same day, it was also re-blogged by writer/comedian Julia Segal via Tumblr. On December 14th, 2009, the same image was posted to Bordom.net.
Throughout 2010, the series continued to spawn new derivatives and spread through online communities like Reddit, Facebook and Bodybuilding Forum as well as humor blogs like MemeBase, Smosh and FunnyJunk. In 2011, the superimposition effect in itself became a popular style of portrayal in image macros, such as Karate Kyle and Vengeance Dad":/memes/vengeance-dad.
As shown in the graph below, search queries for the phrase began shortly after “PTSD Clarinet Boy” version was posted to Digg in December 2009.