“Where we landing?” is the phrase that many extraterrestrial enthusiasts will be asking during the September 20, “Raid on Area 51.” This raid demonstrates the sometimes harmful nature of viral movements, as it threatens public safety and national security.
On June 27, internet comic Matty Roberts united many Facebook users with with one message: “Storm Area 51, They Can’t Stop All of Us.” Area 51 is a military base set up in Lincoln County, Nevada, which has long been thought to have been harbouring evidence of extraterrestrial life. A 2 million strong army of social media users has formed across the wide web. Matty Roberts posted his initial call to action on Facebook; however, the internet militia is now utilizing various modes of communication to spread their message.
One of the largest platforms for the spread of Area 51 raid propaganda is the social media network Tik Tok, which contains some of the most malicious preteens on the internet. These teens use their influence to indoctrinate youth into storming the Area 51 Air Force base.The current strategy for entering the secured facility is a guerilla warfare tactic known as Naruto running, named after its frequent appearance on the animated television show Naruto. When implementing the Naruto run method, one must run towards their target with their hands flailing behind their back as they hunch their spine, allowing the assailant optimal aerodynamics.
In the past, other individuals have leveraged the internet for many different movements such as the ALS ice bucket challenge, #MeToo, BLM and March for Our Lives. While these movements focused on social change, the raid on Area 51 differs; it was never meant to be anything more than a joke and contains no quality substance, according to Matty Roberts.
The most common response at large to the raid at Area 51 has been the creation of popular memes that take advantage of the absurdity of the debacle. Many of these memes have been spread on several platforms such as Instagram and Reddit.
Because of the informal response by the internet, many individuals now consider the event more of an ongoing joke than a serious threat to national security and a large swath of the public.
Since the initial post was made, officials from the U.S. Air Force have made several public statements in order to deter anyone from actually trying to raid the facility. Officials have indicated that they will use lethal force if necessary.
In an interview with The Washington Post, one Air force spokesperson, Laura McAndrews, said that, “The U.S. Air Force always always stands ready to protect America and its assets.” McAndrews added that “any attempt to illegally access the area is highly discouraged.”
Matty Roberts, who created the Facebook event has publicly stated that the post was entirely comedic and he in no way wants anyone to storm the military base.
While pondering the possibility of an actual raid on area 51 can be quite entertaining, there are some serious concerns about a mass of people forming in the Nevada desert and potentially feloniously threatening national security. Though the event is widely considered to be a joke, Lincoln County has issued an emergency declaration as they anticipate a crowd of approximately 40,000 people. The Lincoln County infrastructure can’t support this volume of people. The cell network will not be able to support the crowd while gas stations and restaurants will be completely out of stock. The crowd will likely strain medical services and overwhelm law enforcement.
While there are concerns of straining local infrastructure, many entrepreneurs are inventing new ways to make money from the fiasco. Currently homeowners are renting out their backyards for campsites while street vendors and performers from across the southwest are preparing for the big day.
The raid on Area 51 is an example of how the internet can be abused. When 40,000 arrive in Lincoln County and abuse resources, the joke will be less funny.