EDITOR'S NOTE: Leonardo DiCaprio's smug surprise after a bump at the Golden Globes prompted this essay.
When I was a freshman at NYU and Facebook was only a year old and people created/joined groups like "I have dimples" and "Fake ID, please!," I remember coming across a Facebook group that broke my heart. It's name, something like: "Stefani Germanotta, you will never be famous."
The page housed pictures of a pretty Norah Jones-esque young 18-year-old NYU student who sang and played piano at local bars.
The group was peppered with comments, sharp as porcupine needles, vilifying the aspiring musician for being an "attention-whore." Scores asked: "Who does she think she is?" I also remember one dude posting a flyer for one of her upcoming gigs at a local village bar. He had clearly stomped on the flyer, an outline of his muddy sole [soul] struggling to eclipse her name.
I couldn't shake the raw feeling of filth while scrolling down that Facebook page, but I pretty much — and quickly — forgot about that group and that girl with the intense raven eyes.
Until about five years later. I was on an Amtrak train from NYC to Philly, reading a Vanessa Grigoriadis New York Magazine profile on Lady Gaga. I floated somewhat mindlessly through the piece until I got to the first sentence of the second paragraph:
"Before the meeting, I assumed that someone with a stage name like “Lady” (her given name is Stefani Joanne Germanotta) was going to be a bit standoffish..."
HOLY S---, I screamed to an empty car (Those who hang with me will know that I actually shrieked). LADY GAGA IS STEFANI GERMANOTTA? STEFANI IS LADY GAGA?
I was overcome with a dizzying emotional cocktail of stage-mom-at-a-beauty-pageant and nerd-revenge triumph. But also shame. Shame that I never wrote on that group, shame that I never defended the girl with the intense raven eyes — the girl whose brave flyers were stomped on, probably somewhere near my dorm.
But again, I soon forgot about that revelation and that feeling. Feelings. They're so fleeting. Even more so, revelations. We need to constantly rediscover them every damn day.
Like last week, when I woke up to this meme.
I saw the muddy sole eclipsing her name. The eyerolls. The cowardly virtual-giggles. The "Who does she think she is?"
I've got a lot of feelings, but the easiest one to articulate: gratitude.
Stefani, thank you. Thank you for always thinking you're a superstar, for using your cracks to let the light come out more brightly.
Lauren Bohn is a Middle East correspondent for The GroundTruth Project.
Readers, have you ever taken part in a Facebook Group that you wish you hadn't? Let us know in the comments below.
There is no paywall on the story you just read because a community of dedicated listeners and readers have contributed to keep the global news you rely on free and accessible for all. Will you join the 314 donors who’ve stepped up to support The World? From now until Dec. 31, your gift will help us unlock a $67,000 match. Donate today to double your impact and keep The World free and accessible.