A new viral sensation has taken over social media, though in this case it is hard to tell where the joke ends. Last week, an event page on Facebook began picking up steam, calling on users to "storm Area 51," the government base where it has long been rumored that alien life is under guard. At present, over 895,000 people are signed up to attend.
The event is titled "Storm Area 51, They Can't Stop All of Us," and it is scheduled for Sept. 21, 2019. That gives alien enthusiasts more than two months to plan for travel and accommodations before besieging one of the most heavily guarded military facilities in the United States.
There is little doubt that the Facebook event is a joke. It is hosted by a page called "S-posting cause im in shambles," along with two others. Still, it has grown steadily, with almost a million people now scheduled to attend the meet-up in Amargosa Valley, Nevada, and almost a million more marked "interested."
"We will all meet up at the Area 51 Alien Center tourist attraction and coordinate our entry," reads the event description. "If we Naruto run, we can move faster than their bullets. Let's see them aliens."
Beyond the event itself and its questionable legality, there is a whole new genre of memes emerging from this phenomenon. Users on every platform have been gleefully posting about what they might find and how they might act upon their visit to the mysterious base.
Many have stated their plan to liberate the aliens they believe to be held captive in the facility, while others want to pick one out and take it home as a kind of pet. Some have theorized about the type of life they might find there with varying levels of seriousness, ranging from conspiracy theories to science fiction references.
showing the dog our new alien from Area 51 👽 pic.twitter.com/JfF79grm9i— 🍓wash these strawberries🍓 (@MilkShakeGang) July 14, 2019
In reality, Area 51 is a highly classified remote detachment fo Edwards Air Force Base, and a part of the Nevada Test and Training Range. The CIA referred to it as Area 51 during the Vietnam War, but more recently have called it Homey Airport or Groom Lake. Other documents have called it Dreamland and Paradise Ranch.
Whatever its name, Area 51 is mired in mystery, and therefore is a favorite of conspiracy theorists. The station's primary purpose is not publicly known, but its air space is heavily restricted, suggesting to some that it is intended for developing and testing aircraft.
For years now, ufologists and UFO enthusiasts have speculated that the government is using Area 51 to reverse engineer alien technology, or perhaps even collaborate with extra-terrestrials on all new equipment.
storming area 51 will be all fun and games until the government lets this bitch loose LMAO pic.twitter.com/Hoq0ogUUT7— cory (@templeton_cory) July 14, 2019
In spite of its secrecy, Area 51 is a popular tourist destination. The military base does have a public facing tourist center, though it offers no access to the huge spread of hangars and facilities within. This is just one of many stops on the so-called "Extraterrestrial Highway," which is littered with alien-themed attractions due to the high number of UFO sightings in the area.
As funny as the plan to "Storm Area 51" may be, the U.S. Military is taking it seriously. The Air Force issued a stern warning on Sunday, published by Yahoo News.
"[Area 51] is an open training range for the US Air Force, and we would discourage anyone from trying to come into the area where we train American armed forces," said Air Force spokesperson Laura McAndrews. "The U.S. Air Force always stands ready to protect America and its assets."