Pranks and funny ideas can quickly escalate out of hand.
The idea of gathering enough people to storm a top secret US military base is outlandish and pretty hilarious on the surface, but when over a million people sign up for it, it’s going to attract attention from a fair few sources – and not all of them good.
The internet and its excitable users have been positively buzzing over a recent Facebook event called ‘Storm Area 51, They Can’t Stop All of Us’, which, as the title suggests, involves storming Area 51 with enough people to overpower the military base’s defences – presumably to get to the bottom of what’s there once and for all.
However, when you think about it, members of the public storming a top secret US military base is probably not a good idea, no matter how many people click ‘attending’ on Facebook.
The page was created at the end of June this year, by Matty Roberts from California, who set it up as a bit of light-hearted fun. With instructions such as ‘If we naruto run, we can move faster than their bullets. Let’s see them aliens’, it’s easy to take it as such.
After a few days however, the event page went viral, and now has around 1.7 million people who have said they’re attending. All of which has left Matty feeling rather uneasy about it all.
Which one of y'all hacked google earth street view for the Area 51 plan pic.twitter.com/uILX48tUjs
— vegan pork 'n beans Ⓥ☭ (@theleafdude) July 19, 2019
Speaking to CNN, Roberts said:
I waited for like three days and there were like 40 people and then it just completely took off out of nowhere. It was pretty wild.
Roberts was reportedly reluctant to reveal himself at first, fearing authorities might be trying to track him down.
I was just like, the FBI’s going to show up at my house and it got a little spooky from there.
“STORM AREA 51” a joke that became a viral sensation. (Video) https://t.co/SPJCwbSNR4
— George Knapp (@g_knapp) July 18, 2019
Matty said he came up with the idea for the event after listening to Joe Rogan’s podcast interview with Area 51 expert Bob Lazar and filmmaker Jeremy Corbell. Lazar is well-known among the Area 51 theorists, as he claims to have worked on alien spacecrafts during his time as an employee at the base.
Speaking with NPR via Facebook Messenger, under the pseudonym Val, Roberts admitted he set it up as ‘I just thought it would be a funny idea for the meme page.’
He added: ‘And it just took off like wildfire. It’s entirely satirical though, and most people seem to understand that.’
Still, there are always some people who take a joke too far. And while the US Air Force has strongly discouraged anyone from trying ‘storm’ Area 51 – it is a live, open training range for the military, after all – we’ll see what happens when September in Nevada rolls around.
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Charlie Cocksedge is a journalist at UNILAD. He graduated from the University of Manchester with an MA in Creative Writing, where he learnt how to write in the third person, before getting his NCTJ. His work has also appeared in such places as The Guardian, PN Review and the bin.