Law Enforcement's Serious Reaction To The Area 51 Memes Was No Laughing Matter

No list of conspiracy theories would be complete without the mention of Area 51, a secluded section of the Nevada Desert long believed to be housing alien aircraft and possibly even creatures from other planets. According to Vox, the theory was set into motion more than three decades in the past and has an elongated history in the hearts of pop culture fans and UFO enthusiasts alike. Were alien experiments really taking place underground? Were flying saucers truly hovering overhead? For the better part of 30 years, it seemed such thoughts would linger in the foothills as mysteries untold.

But then, in late September of 2019, something strange descended on the Extraterrestrial Highway, forever leaving its mark on the tiny town of Rachel, Nevada and the other surrounding, minimally populated regions. It was certainly alien to the area's residents, but the presence was not exactly otherworldly. Rather, it was a scourge of demi-influencers, social media conspiracy theorists, and UFO buffs, poised to storm the notorious Area 51. BBC News reports that it all started with a meme and quickly developed into an encroaching "humanitarian disaster" that was no laughing matter.

What exactly is Area 51 anyway?

Before we divulge into this internet phenomenon turned "humanitarian disaster," (via BBC) it's important to understand just how secluded, private, and protected this region of North America is. According to The Guardian, Area 51, otherwise known as "Groom Lake Airfield" consists of thousands of square miles of undeveloped desert land. 

This isolated territory, property of the U.S. Air Force, has served as a breeding ground for all sorts of experimental, highly classified activity. It is essentially a testing ground for weapons of mass destruction, a mushroom cloud of suspicious activity that quietly claims the title of "most bombed place on Earth" (per The Guardian). But while it is rumored that nearly a thousand bombs have exploded over its open spaces, according to NPR and the United States government, the place does not officially exist.

Since secrecy is the portal where all of the best conspiracy theories are formed, and considering that much of the suspicious activity was happening in the air (ergo Air Force activity), Area 51 officially became the place where captive aliens were being held hostage, and subject to some seriously inhumane experiments conducted by our very own government, or at least that's how the legend/ rumor/ theory goes...

But once the plot got posted to the internet it took a different turn, morphing into an alien creation we've all come to love -– the notorious meme.

All fun and memes in the beginning

According to legend, and of course Vox, the Area 51 memes that started the movement were crafted where most brilliant, potentially dangerous, and possibly uncontainable ideas derive –- in some college kids' parents' basement. They were initially the brainchild of late-night gamer and meme developer Matty Roberts, who was so moved by a Joe Rogan podcast on the topic (via The Guardian) that he started his very own Facebook event entitled "Storm Area 51, They Can't Stop All of Us".

Within a matter of minutes, the Area 51 Meme emerged in all its glory, garnering the attention of more than 3 million eager internet users, many of whom seemed to be joking at first. The memes themselves were playful, toying with the idea of "ET"-Esque alien rescue missions, reframing cartoon imagery with an extraterrestrial bent, and so on. But then, something unexpected happened. The government responded rather menacingly to the internet and its plans to storm the region.

In a quote published originally in the Washington Post, one unnamed spokesperson acting on behalf of the U.S. airforce addressed the nearly 1 million Facebook users planning to attend the peculiar event with the following message, "The U.S. Air Force always stands ready to protect America and its assets."

Deadly forces of humankind descended

In case you were wondering "what ready to protect America and its assets" translates to in human-speak, it consists of some pretty violent stuff, including but not limited to, the use of deadly force, according to Rolling Stone. So, while memers, IG models, and UFO enthusiasts were giggling amongst themselves at the thought of storming air force bases and freeing the aliens they imagined were inside, the U.S. defense department and the FBI were prepared to blow everyone up, and not to the heightened status of internet fame either, but rather, to bits. Say what you will of the implications, they certainly had enough practice to follow through on the threat.

They also had some real-life reasons for being so protective. After all, Area 51 is a place where government secrets remain so. This is not to mention the fact that the infrastructure of neighboring towns was designed to accommodate hundreds of people, certainly not thousands or millions. The Guardian reports that some government officials feared that locals could die from hunger or dehydration as their tiny towns' resources were sucked dry by alien intruders –- riding in from right here on Earth.

Government documents revealed secondary concerns such as international and domestic terrorism, along with other real-life trespassing incidents (also per Rolling Stone). For example, an unnamed YouTube crew purportedly attached a tracking device to the shuttle that shuffles officials to and from the base in hopes of uncovering surveillance footage.

The siege was reduced to a massive party

Perhaps this was always its purpose. It is difficult to say for sure. But in the end, the slew of memes, the government threats, the emerging documents, and the rumors of flying saucers sweeping over desert sands were all reduced to a massive party that one spectator described as "weirder than I imagined" (per The Guardian). There in the desert foothills, UFO buffs collided with social media influencers and European tourists. It was quite the alien encounter, but according to Vox, nobody ever stormed the protected area, and no real-life aliens were present.

From decades-old legend to viral joke turned barely missed humanitarian crisis, the Area 51 memes are bound to take their rightful place in pop culture history, and fortunately without any casualties. The event itself has been transformed, albeit reduced, to what many other theories often morph into –- a vacuous celebration without any real cause where nobody is in charge, sponsored by a light beer that capitalizes on alien imagery. It is now marketed to the public as "Alienstock" a sort of "Woodstock" made for UFO enthusiasts.