Social media users have been absolutely inundated in a river of Area 51-related memes as a Facebook-organized raid of the secretive military installation nears, but the US Air Force warns that anyone who actually goes through with storming the base will face harsh consequences.
While nearly everyone knows that the tongue-in-cheek Area 51 raid, whose rallying slogan is "let's see them aliens," is just for laughs and is no way intended to actually happen, there is still some risk that a small portion of the near-million Facebook users claiming to be attending the event will actually follow through with the plan. Others have joked that their actions, though netting them with neat extraterrestrial friends and technologies, will likely result in their deaths at the hands of Edwards Air Force Base personnel. The titular plan of the event is "Storm Area 51, They Can't Stop All of Us," but if a tiny fraction of the pledged users show up and things turn violent, the odds that the safety and wellbeing of real-life attendees will be secured fall drastically.
Speaking with The Washington Post about the proposed September 20 raid of Area 51, US Air Force spokesperson Laura McAndrews ominously warned, "The U.S. Air Force always stands ready to protect America and its assets." Informing potential participants that Edwards Air Force Base, of which Area 51 is one small, well-guarded part, is "an open training range for the U.S. Air Force," she issued the firm warning that the military "would discourage anyone from trying to come into the area where [they] train American armed forces." As for specific consequences and legal penalties that could be meted out there at Area 51 or in a court of law for the ill-advised few who go through with the scheme, McAndrews provided nothing concrete.
It can be hoped that McAndrew's solemn words will dissuade anyone brash enough to actually trespass on military property, but that doesn't mean that her warning - nor others - should kill the hilarious meme that the Area 51 raid has spawned. Having seeped from Facebook into other social media platforms, celebrities, influencers, and popular independent accounts of all types have joined in on the hyperbolic fun. Comedy YouTuber Gus Johnson mulled over the prospects that "some government guy" might actually be poring over Area 51 raid memes for up-to-date intelligence in a tweet, while cosmetics mogul Jeffree Star turned the prescribed joke formula on its head, insinuating that he is an alien resident of Area 51 fearing "human invasion."
With the Facebook event that spawned nearly a million people to jokingly agree to take part in a massive act of rebellion being scheduled for more than two months away, it's all but guaranteed that this sudden online sensation will die down well before its time to free captive aliens and pilot UFOs. The sarcasm of the plan has surely been lost on some small fragment of that group, however, and it can only be hoped that any would-be Area 51 trespassers don't make headlines come September.