Millions pledged to join the raid on Area 51 Friday, Sept. 20, through a Facebook event created in jest by a 21-year-old from California.
In anticipation of the event, the town of Rachel, outside the military site, stocked up. Locals invested in concert venues in the area for attendees. The United States Air Force pooled resources and placed reinforcements at the base, just in case. And while some dreaded an impending humanitarian crisis when millions would flood the isolated desert, nobody quite knew what exactly would happen.
Lincoln County, of around 5,200 residents, withdrew from an emergency fund to prepare for 30,000 attendees to show up, according to a story in the New York Times. The United States Air Force prepared in earnest for the would-be invasion. In the end, it was all for 3,000 people to have a space-themed costume party and concert in the desert.
A lot of people interviewed at the event compared it to a modern Woodstock.
Seth Carlson, an attendee quoted in the New York Times, said, “I can’t tell my kids I didn’t make it to Area 51. This is history.”
Based on the on-the-ground coverage of the event provided by the BBC, New York Times and CNN, I think it is safe to say the Area 51 raid paled in comparison to Woodstock and other great happenings in history.
We don’t know the exact figure for the amount of money the Air Force fronted to expand the security of the location, but they did announce that they sent reinforcements to the location. How much money did this cost taxpayers? Did this decrease security from other parts of the nation that needed it more?
According to a story posted online by The New York Times, 16-year-old Noah Nelson and his 21-year-old brother Austin drove from Alberta, Canada, to show up at the event. That’s anywhere from a 24-25 hour drive over 1,600 miles to arrive on Friday. He would have at least had to miss school Thursday and Friday to make the trip, if not also Wednesday.
Entertainment is entertainment, and all people are entitled to do with their income and property what they wish so long as it doesn’t infringe upon the rights of others. But when internet jokes bridge the divide between digital and reality, who ends up paying? Everyday Americans did when our tax money had to fund the provisions made in vain for a joke of an invasion that never quite arrived.
A practical joke is a practical joke, but when it comes at the expense of the public, it does not make you a comedian; it makes you a clown. No matter how steeped in humor your words are, the rest of the world will react and come to bear the consequences of your actions.
The renegade raid of Area 51 happened to coincide with a global climate protest chiefly initiated by students. Shippensburg University students, led by Paige Steffy, gathered in the academic quad for an hour or so, championing signs petitioning action from the government. It does not matter what side of the climate change debate you are on; any action or advocacy yields more good for society than what occurred last weekend in southern Nevada.
What objective good could have been accomplished if the Area 51 raiders had decided to instead clean up a beach? Or take the money they spent on gas to arrive in Nevada, and pooled it instead toward a charity of choice?
Instead of wasting your time and money to waste others’ time and money, do something with yourself to benefit the world around you. Volunteer, or donate your money to a cause you believe in.
"Your World Today" is a weekly column written by the editor-in-chief of The Slate. It represents solely the subjective opinion of the individual who wrote it. For Staff Editorial opinions, see this week's "The Slate Speaks."