Born Too Late / Early / Just In Time To Explore X
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Born Too Late To Explore The Earth, continued Born Too Early To Explore Space, Born Just In Time To X, refers to a series of image macros using the phrasal template based on a quote about how modern people are born too late to explore the Earth and too early to explore space, but just in time to do something else. The quote appears to have first been used on 4chan in 2011, inspiring numerous memes playing off the quote over the following years.
The earliest known use of a variation of the quote is a meme posted to 4chan's /tv/ board on September 9th, 2011, in an "Adventure/exploration movies" thread. The two-panel meme shows a Feels Bad Man Pepe over an image of a ship on top captioned, "you were born too late. You will never explore Earth. Feels bad, man." The bottom shows an image of Pepe in space captioned, "You were born too early. You'll never explore the galaxy. Feels bad, man" (shown below).
Born Just In Time To X
The quote is sometimes expanded with a comedic twist stating something that people born in the modern age are in time to explore. The earliest known version is an expansion of the original 4chan meme that adds a third panel captioned "You were born just in time. Explore reality… Feels good, man" (shown below). It was posted to Know Your Meme On April 8th, 2012 and likely came from 4chan.
Memes based on the quote became increasingly popular over the following years, seeing a boost in popularity around 2014-2015. On September 21st, 2014, an Imgur user posted a version of the Gnome Child meme using a version of the meme about being born in time to browse "dank memes,": gaining over 10,000 views in seven years (shown below).
On December 8th, 2016, Facebook page LADbible posted a meme from a now-deleted account showing a student who used the dank memes version of the quote in their high school yearbook, gaining over 43,000 reactions and 2,800 shares in five years (shown below).
The quote was posted to Reddit's /r/quotes subreddit on January 7th, 2015, attributed to an anonymous source. On July 10th, 2019, Redditor jonathanosv posted a meme to /r/Animemes using a common format for the quotes about being just in time to see a specific cosplay, gaining over 21,800 upvotes in two years (shown below, left). On December 30th, a Facebook page posted a version about it being just in time to be a weeb (shown below, right).
On April 5th, 2021, Twitter user yongAKA posted, "Born too late to be Vine famous born too early to be TikTok famous, born just in time to graduate into a pandemic and not qualify for a stimulus check," gaining over 557,000 likes and 61,000 retweets in eight months (shown below). It was reposted to Instagram the next day by goodmemethanks, gaining over 69,000 likes.
 Know Your Meme – You were born just in time. Explore reality
 Reddit – We are the middle children of history
 Reddit – This is fucking gorgeous
 Instagram – goodmemethanks
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