In a Facebook message to Rolling Stone, one of the creators of the event, who identified himself as a 20-year-old named Val, says he got the idea for the event while playing World of Warcraft, which features a zone called Area 52. “I can’t say I ever expected the response it has received at all,” he admits. He estimates that while he’s only seen a few dozen or so commenters taking the idea seriously by formulating “legitimate plans” to infiltrate the military base, there are a “few thousand” people on the page who do think it’s serious, “and only comment on why it’s an absolutely terrible idea and we’re all going to die,” he says.
A classified military base about 150 miles outside of Las Vegas, Area 51 has long been the focal point of various conspiracy theories speculating about the existence of extraterrestrial life. Because it’s a classified military area, it’s not exactly clear what the purpose of the base is, which is exactly why it has prompted so much speculation; it wasn’t until as recently as 2013 that the CIA even publicly acknowledged its existence.
Due to the secrecy surrounding the area, it’s attracted much scrutiny from conspiracy theorists; theories range wildly, from speculation that Area 51 is used to examine crashed UFOs to the belief that the site is used as a laboratory to replicate alien viruses. A New York Times investigation from earlier this year, revealing new military guidelines for how to report on what it refers to as unexplained aerial phenomena, only served to fuel the fire of speculation.
Considering nearly half of Americans reportedly believe in aliens, according to one 2017 survey, it’s not super surprising that this particular event — no matter the intentions behind it — would garner so much attention. Still, in the highly unlikely (repeat: highly unlikely) event that there are aliens at Area 51, however, let’s hope they have a well-developed sense of irony and Japanese anime.
This story has been updated with comment from the creator of the event.