By Mayukh Saha / Truth Theory
Things go viral at the drop of a hat nowadays. With the massive number of users on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, everything from a cat video to a clever joke has the capacity to go viral in a matter of hours, sometimes in minutes. Just imagine, a third of the population is on just Facebook alone. Technology now allows for idea-sharing on an unheard-of scale and using that to spread some light humor only makes us human right?
Of course, this doesn’t mean that massive movements for causes don’t take shape on social media. All the movements of the recent past ranging from Occupy Wall Street to Black Lives Matter have gathered speed and momentum using the reach that the internet gives them. Even groups of hackers like Anonymous have taken to social media in order to expose wrongdoings and garner support. With this being the case, it isn’t surprising that governments across countries closely watch what goes on in the interwebs. Sometimes they go overboard and a simple joke is taken far too seriously.
So what happens when the government takes things far too seriously? Well, Matty Roberts can tell, now that he’s received the first-hand experience. Even if you’ve never heard of Roberts, you would have heard about the hilarious Facebook event he created – ‘Storm Area 51, They Can’t Stop Us All’. Area 51 is a top-secret military base in Nevada -a subject of speculation for many years. There are plenty who believe that aliens crash-landed in that area and are still living there. There are many who will tell you that the government is communicating with extraterrestrial life from there. And of course, it must all be kept a secret. It is heavily guarded at all times and signs are there everywhere telling people to stay away.
The description simply stated that if everyone could just meet up in Rural Nevada and coordinate, they could “Naruto-run” faster than bullets and see the aliens inside. It’s no wonder that people found this hilarious. Within days the internet was inundated with a flood of Area 51 memes ranging from funny to just bizarre. Millions of people signed up for the event and many more marked their interest.
However, the joke didn’t stay funny for long. The United States Air Force started looking into the possibility of people trying to break into a classified military base. They even issued a statement discouraging people from entering into the area since it is a training ground for military personnel. And it didn’t even end there.
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Matty Roberts then got a call from his mother that no one really should have to get. The FBI had landed on his doorstep! Luckily they just asked if anyone had threatened him and left after being satisfied that neither Matty nor anyone else was trying to use the viral event to radicalize people.
Since then Roberts has tried to shift the attention of his followers to Alienstock, a festival he’s organizing near Area 51. It’s free for all and he envisions it as a place where amazing people can gather every year just to have fun.
And any time anyone needs a good laugh, just imagine a General in the Pentagon furiously demanding to know what on earth is a Naruto run!