At First, I Was Like, But Then, I Was Like refers to a phrasal template and series of memes that revolve around one's sudden change in their opinion or impression regarding a particular subject. Typically, these appear as image macros with variations of the caption “At first I was like X, but then I was like X,” with two related images depicting different facial expressions split into two panels. There are many variations of the setup, which sometimes displays the same image twice for irony.
The exact origins of this meme are unknown, but it is believed to have originated sometime around 2004. One such early example was posted on April 5th, 2004, in a thread on the My350Z forums by user 12SecZ, who used the phrasal template alongside emoticons to show their reaction (seen below, left). Another early template setup using the phrase in a meme format included the caption "At first I was like, but then I lol'd." On May 27th, 2007, MyConfinedSpace user Panzer posted one such example, receiving 24 votes and a 4.5 out of 5 rating in roughly 14 years (seen below, right).
The format continued to spread with different variations and alterations to the caption setup over the next several years. On March 14th, 2013, the official Batman Facebook page posted another version of the meme as a three-panel comic with the third frame captioned "Now I'm like," accumulating over 6,600 likes, 771 shares and 126 comments in eight years (shown below, left). Also that year (exact date unknown), ImgFlip user drivendiscipline posted another example using the two-panel format, accumulating over 15,000 views in roughly eight years (shown below, right).
On November 13th, 2013, the site Nedmartin.org shared a version of the meme using the same image twice for irony in the style of a Demotivational Poster with the caption "Please Kristen, control your emotions" (seen below).
YouTube Poop Video Variant
A spin-off version of the meme branched off the image macro template in 2009 using a small part of the song "Hokus Pokus" by The Insane Clown Posse. In this setup, a brief clip from the song is taken featuring ICP member Violent J laughing before he says, "Fuck You!" coinciding with a spinning picture that changes into an angry or sad image during the "F*ck You" clip. Although the original was started by YouTuber RedBan in 2009, featuring a picture of Mario's head from the CDi games, the upload has since been terminated by YouTube.
Other examples of the trend still exist from that timeframe however, such as an upload on August 27th, 2009, from YouTuber Scoot Ampora, which received over 84,000 views in roughly 11 years (seen below, left). On December 8th, 2009, YouTuber Naturesshadow uploaded another example using the title "At first i was like :|) then i was like :@," receiving over 46,000 views in 11 years (seen below, right).
Reaction Guys / Gaijin 4koma
Reaction Guys is a series of four-paned comics based on two photographs of IGN reporters reacting to Nintendo's announcement of new titles at the E3 conference in 2003 and 2004 respectively. The multi-pane setup is typically used to express one's disappointment and excitement over two separate things.
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