"Still, for longtime fans, for those who took to Facebook yesterday with memories and old performance clips, yesterday’s breakup felt like a death in the family. R.E.M. were more than just a band; they represented an aesthetic preference. In contrast to U2, the kings of secular sincerity, R.E.M. made themselves vulnerable in a very human way. They were a smart band who stood for substantial things and weren’t afraid to be totally, delightfully weird. The group’s stubborn unorthodoxy resonated with the kids who didn’t fit in -- the ones who were too smart, too unconventional, too geeky, too philosophical, too artsy. Hardcore fans naturally gravitated toward one another: If you saw someone wearing an R.E.M. shirt, you just knew on a subconscious level you’d probably be friends."