Area 51: Did the Raid Even Happen?
For those of you who hadn’t heard of The Area 51 Raid or if you’re reading this from far into the future looking back onto the events that occurred during your time in high school, it all began with a viral Facebook page that gained traction throughout other social media platforms, spiraling into a nation-wide campaign. The event has made pop culture history.
Leading up to the Raid…
For many years, Americans have surmised that Area 51, the classified military base located next to the small, desert-y town of Rachel, Nevada, has been secretly withholding Alien spacecrafts, technologies, and even extraterrestrial life-forms from the public-eye. This loose suspicion was the premise behind Matty Robert’s Facebook page jokingly created and named “Storm Area 51, They Can’t Stop All of Us” in June. Two million people ended up signing up to “see them aliens” in Area 51 on Friday, September 20th, 2019. I can only wonder if there had been any Bedford students who hopped on to the mass trend…
As the Facebook page trended, collaborators and enthusiasts devised specific strategies in order to successfully storm the heavily secure military facility. One of these strategies included the bullet-dodging technique of “Naruto running” inspired by the well-known Japanese manga character, Naruto Uzumaki, in the series “Naruto” written by Masashi Kishimoto. “Naruto running” mimics the Japanese manga character’s movements, running with your torso leaned downward with your arms directed straight behind. Designated Naruto Runners in the Area 51 Raid Plan were strategizing to use this technique to stealthily pass the guards and dodge bullets. Social media feeds became bombarded with videos and clips of people “Naruto running” around.
Strategy maps also became viral throughout social media. On these maps of the real geography of Area 51, people annotated and labeled certain positions and roles of designated groups such as “Naruto Runners” or “Rock Throwers.” These maps were color-coded and covered with arrows pointing in different directions in order to simulate a military strategy map. Occasionally, famous celebrities’ names such as “Taylor Swift” or “LeBron James” were even added and included on to these maps to add an element of hilarity and gain popularity. Although these strategy maps were not at all taken with serious intent, we all have to admit, the creative strategy maps were entertainment gold.
The Actual Raid…
On September 20th, 2019, the same day of the Global Climate Strike, it is estimated that around 3,000 people showed up to the Area 51 Raid in Nevada. Instead of entering classified US Air Force property and facing serious consequences, arrests, jail-time, injury, or even death, the “Storm Area 51, They Can’t Stop All of Us” Facebook page creator, Matty Robert, had instead encouraged Area 51 Raid participants to gather and party in downtown Las Vegan to celebrate in a free “Area 51 Celebration.” Most people involved had not taken the event seriously (which was the right thing to do), and did not step foot on to the military base. As for the celebration, people from all over the nation, many of them social media bloggers and vlogger, dressed into their alien costumes, and raved throughout the weekend.
Though the actual event in real life seemed disappointing, a man was caught “Naruto running” behind a local reporter, reporting live on television at the Area 51 event.
While groups in Las Vegas enjoyed the Alien celebrations and parties, up here in small town Bedford, New Hampshire, Bedford High School students received this image in an email from BHS Principal Bob Jozokos:
Jozokos, having run alongside the “Naruto Runners,” seemed to have been the only person to successfully infiltrate Area 51 to “see them aliens.”
The Area 51 Raid seemed to have disappeared as quickly from our minds, as it appeared. On to the next trend…
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Area 51 Raid: Social Media is Getting Dangerous
Though the actual event seemed underwhelming, the Area 51 Raid build-up and memeage (superfluidity of memes, or social media trending jokes) will forever hold a place in what I will one day say was my childhood. Though the occurrence was something no one had ever expected it to be, I don’t think this will be the last of these type of events, where social media memes gain enormous traction and are brought in to movements in reality.
With the continuous development of new technology, our reality is becoming more intertwined with social media, and the dangers have shown to be present. Many times social media memes and joke content are taken to a degree where people put themselves at risk. The Area 51 Raid could have ended very badly if many people were to have crossed on to the military property. Other social media trends such as the Kiki challenge or the Bird Box challenge have also posed dangerous risks of social media influence.
The Area 51 Raid and these social media challenges reflect the susceptibility of our world to social media.
The stormy, overcasting internet cloud is lurking above us all…