An event which is supposed to be held today, September 20, in Nevada has gone viral. The event is called "Storm Area 51, They Can't Stop All of Us". Though the person who came up with idea has said that it was a joke, still many people are seen to heading to Area 51.
According to CNN, Matty Roberts started the Facebook group "Storm Area 51, They Can't Stop All of Us" in June as a joke. It went viral and spawned a number of memes. It has since grown into a massive phenomenon that could potentially draw thousands of people to Nevada this weekend.
Despite repeated warnings from law enforcement officials and the U.S. Air Force, people have begun descending upon two small desert towns in the western U.S. state of Nevada. Local media reports said people in campers and trucks have begun to set up camp near Rachel and Hiko, Nevada, with a combined population of little more than 150.
"If we Naruto run, we can move faster than their bullets," the event description says, referring to a Japanese comic character known for running with his arms stretched out backward and his head forward. Roberts told the Los Angeles Times, ""I sparked a movement while I was bored at 2 a.m." But his idea took on a life of its own. More than 2.1 million have said on the Facebook page that they plan to attend. Roberts has since disassociated himself from the event, citing public safety concerns because the towns lack infrastructure to support a visit by tens of thousands, or maybe more.
So what is Area 51?
Area 51 is part of the vast Nevada Test and Training Range that provides "flexible, realistic and multidimensional battlespace'' for testing and "advanced training in support of U.S. national interests,'' according to the U.S. Air Force. It has been the subject of conspiracy theories that say the U.S. military keeps aliens and UFOs there.
According to BBC, Area 51 was created during the Cold War between the US and the Soviet Union as a testing and development facility for aircraft, including the U-2 and SR-71 Blackbird reconnaissance planes. Although it opened in 1955, its existence was only officially acknowledged by the CIA in August 2013. Four months after the CIA's disclosure, President Obama became the first US president to mention Area 51 publicly.
Why is the internet going crazy over it?
Area 51's secrecy has long fuelled fascination about extraterrestrial life, UFOs and conspiracy theories, giving rise to the events this week and prompting military warnings not to approach the protected site. The site is officially called the Homey Airport or Groom Lake.
"This phenomenon is really a perfect blend of interest in aliens and the supernatural, government conspiracies, and the desire to know what we don't know," said Michael Ian Borer, a University of Nevada, Las Vegas, sociologist who researches pop culture and paranormal activity told Al Jazeera.
Facebook event writes, "If we naruto run, we can move faster than their bullets. Let's see them aliens", referring to the unique running style of anime character Naruto Uzumaki and several other characters, who run with their arms stretched behind them, head down and torso tilted forward.
"People desire to be part of something, to be ahead of the curve," Borer further added. "Area 51 is a place where normal, ordinary citizens can't go. When you tell people they can't do something, they just want to do it more."
What if someone trespasses Area 51?
The perimeter of the base is marked out by orange posts and patrolled by guards in white pickup trucks and camouflage fatigues. Signage around the base perimeter advises that deadly force is authorized against trespassers.
Technology is also heavily used to maintain the border of the base; this includes surveillance cameras and motion detectors. Some of these motion detectors are placed some distance away from the base on public land to notify guards of people approaching.
The USAF warned that 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". It added: "The US Air Force always stands ready to protect America and its assets," reported BBC.