Hit film ‘The Social Network’ charts the origins of the phenomenon that is facebook. In the movie, a simple act of revenge whereby a jilted young man seeks to humiliate a girl spawns an idea that becomes a billion dollar industry. But whilst the folks at facebook may try and convince you that it has moved beyond its vengeful origins, the site remains a potent weapon that, in the wrong hands, can wreak untold destruction.
I continue to resist twitter and the rest, believing firmly that they are not a new frontier of communication so much as they are a massive time sink. Indeed, Stephen Hawking would be well advised to update his book ‘A Brief History of Time’ to confirm that the newest black hole in the universe is, in fact, facebook. Mostly, I’m oblivious to it. However, I am reliably informed that there is a page on facebook entitled ‘You Know You Went to Flinders College in the 1980s if……’ Lots of examples are listed. It is, I am assured, the nature of such things. One of them is ‘You Know You Went to Flinders College in the 1980s if you saw 20/20 Vision live in concert’. 20/20 Vision was the name of the band I was in during high school. This page has more than seventy members.
There are comments, of course, along with photos. Mostly these are statements of remembrance and recognition, a sense of camaraderie born of shared memories and experiences. No wonder people find this stuff addictive – it so often answers the question that plagues everyone when they reminisce: whatever happened to ‘so and so’? But amidst this harmless fun there lurked something of a hand-grenade, a posting that did not come in peace but to settle a score that I had no idea even existed.
I didn’t know Darren Hornsby that well. He was a year or two older than me and was pretty quiet. About the only thing I remember was that he had a girlfriend for about a week and that this seemed something of a surprise, even to Darren. We weren’t friends, but we weren’t enemies either. Or so I thought.
It was short, it was sharp and it was devastating. Darren posted, ‘Yeah I saw 20/20 Vision play (crap)…..’ Whilst such a critique may seem harmless enough, those words are a dagger to my musical heart. I’ll be the first to admit that we weren’t exactly Radiohead, but we were best band the school had to offer. That we were the only band doesn’t really come into the equation. Number one is number one, no matter which way you slice it.
As the singer, I often bathed in the adulation that being in a teenage rock band brings. Walking between the portables and across the quadrangle, my fellow students gazed at me in what I assumed was quiet worship. I thought everybody loved us. Clearly, I was mistaken. Darren didn’t make his feelings known at the time – if he had some constructive criticism he wished to provide, all he had to do was speak up. I feel betrayed.
Although I could try and draw some succor from the fact that Darren’s scathing assessment did not prompt a flood of similar comments, neither did anyone charge to our defence. This is in spite of the fact that of the seventy-plus people in the group, two are my sisters and one was a member of the band itself. Under these circumstances, such silence is disturbing. Rather than a disgruntled lone wolf, perhaps Darren is part of a silent but still angry majority who have been waiting all these years for the chance to stick their boots in. It’s as though he has bided his time, patiently anticipating the creation of facebook and social media where his true feelings can finally be revealed. I can’t recall him even liking music, and yet he has dismissed the finest efforts of our teenage years in a single word.
How should I respond? Should I accuse him of having ears of clay or simply demand satisfaction and challenge him to some kind of dual? Sadly, whilst facebook gives you the option of accepting or declining an offer of friendship, it is completely without a function that lets you organize pistols at dawn.
The members of 20/20 Vision will soon reunite for the first time in more nearly twenty years. Whilst we could probably be forgiven for retaliating by way of a letter advising Darren that we’re not wild about him either, I don’t think that’s the way to go. I’d prefer to dust off the instruments and turn up unannounced to his house, set up on the lawn and start playing. Or, if that’s not possible, perhaps we could transfer some of the old cassettes to compact disc and present him with the very first copy of ‘20/20 Vision – The Anthology’.
Facebook may be a fascinating portal into the past, but it’s also capable of delivering some fairly confronting surprises. When I first heard of the ‘You Know You Went to Flinders College in the 1980s…’ page, I assumed it would be filled with earnest debate as to which 20/20 Vision best encapsulates the spirit of the band, a full list of our live performances and a petition begging us to reform. Maybe even chord charts to allow our die hard followers to play along. But instead of fan worship all I found was criticism that’s twenty years too late in coming. Darren, had I only known how you felt. I am truly, deeply sorry.