It's an eye-catching headline people on social media couldn't help but click: "My Ex-Boyfriend's New Girlfriend is Lady Gaga."
New York Times senior editor Lindsay Crouse went viral with an essay published in February that shared how she felt when she found out Michael Polansky, a man she had dated for seven years, was now the boyfriend of one of the most famous women in the world.
"I was astonished. I thought, 'Wow,'" Crouse told NBC's Harry Smith in an interview that aired on Sunday TODAY. "Instead of thinking, 'Why not me,' when I look at a celebrity, I thought, 'Wow, in many ways that actually was me at one point.' And I felt like it really did pull the illusion of celebrity down."
Crouse's essay has now racked up more than 3 million page views. In it, she recalls the moment her friends saw a photo of Lady Gaga cuddling with Polansky in Miami after attending the Super Bowl. One by one, Crouse's phone lit up with texts from friends telling her she needed to check social media.
A decade ago, just before Instagram launched, someone may have perhaps learned their ex was dating a famous person by picking up a tabloid magazine or hearing the news from mutual friends. In 2020, Crouse said social media makes it harder for those boundaries to exist.
"The phone is the place where we all converge, and so in that way, there's no separation," she said. "I think in our real lives, though, there's so much. That's why these illusions are both so important but also so porous these days. They're falling down."
Polansky and Lady Gaga appear to still be going strong. On Saturday, the pop star posted a photo of her and her man with their arms around each other.
Crouse said social media can make it hard to not want to compare yourself to someone else, especially when that someone is a global phenomenon. However, the experience helped her realize there are positive comparisons to be made, too.
"The point is Lady Gaga is living the ambitious life that we keep saying women should embrace," she wrote in her essay. "If Lady Gaga can do what she wants and even expand on what she wants, why not me, too? Why not let being exactly who I am mean trying to be the best I could be?"