Meme Origins: Where 'That Feeling When...' Got Its' Start

My first post here at Bustle was on why all the people are saying 'all the things' all the time now. Today let's explore the origins of another recent verbal meme: "That feeling when..." If you are a person who has a social media account, you have seen people use 'That feeling when' (or TFW) to start a sentence. But where did this linguistic trend come from?

My first post here at Bustle was on why all the people are saying 'all the things' all the time now. Today let's explore the origins of another recent verbal meme: "That feeling when..." If you are a person who has a social media account, you have seen people use 'That feeling when' (or TFW) to start a sentence. But where did this linguistic trend come from?

Doing it wrong

Though it tends to precede something funny or universal, widespread use of the phrase has seriously dampened the overall quality of "that feeling whens." It's adoption by vaguebookers and the kind of people who post emotional, inspirational quotes to Pinterest has resulted in things in like this.

And this.

That feeling when you're kind of missing the point ...

That feeling when ...

Here is a somewhat better example.

That feeling when ...

And a few more.

That feeling when ...

My first and only time using this expression. Somehow this felt like an appropriate time.

The beginning

So where does it all come from? It started with this image. According to Know Your Meme, it's "rumored" to have been first posted on a German image board called Krautchan in May 2010. The bald man was posted in several of the message board's threads by a user named Wojak, along with Wojak's laments about not having a girlfriend. The bald man became known on international image boards as "Wojak's face" or "ciepla twarz" ("warm face").

Trending interest

Google searches for "that feeling when" since 2005

Wojak's hug

By 2011, this picture of Wojak's face hugging another bald man with the caption "I know that feel, bro" began to appear on 4chan message board threads.

Image via Know Your Meme

I know that feel, bro

Users also began posting the Wojack face with the phrase “that feel” or “that feel when." This eventually lost the Wojack face —which is rather for the best I think (that's a warm face?) — and began morphing into the more properly English construction "that feeling when." And a meme is born!