Odds are, you aren't going to work or school tomorrow.
This Friday, you have the choice of whether or not to do two very different (but similarly insurgent, anti-government) activities. September 20, 2019 is the date of both the Area 51 raid and the global climate strike.
Area 51, the legendary military base in the Nevada desert that has long been at the center of speculation and paranoia about alien activity, will be the location of a mass Naruto run that will occur early Friday morning. The raid was conceptualized on a Facebook event page called "Storm Area 51, They Can't Stop All Of Us." The page garnered over a million RSVPs, and since then it's become a popular and beloved meme.
The event gained attention from the U.S. government, and an Air Force spokeswoman went on record at the Washington Post and discouraged people from trying to invade the base, saying that "the U.S. air force always stands ready to protect America and its assets." For some, the government's veiled threat to shoot down invaders only added fuel to the flames, as suicidal Gen-Zers and millennials doubled down on their commitment to "find them aliens."
Since the raid took off, Lincoln County, Nevada has declared a state of emergency, and they currently expect a crowd of 40,000 people. Things worsened when the creator of the original event, Matty Roberts, announced a music festival called Alienstock near the site. After it began to draw comparisons to Fyre Festival, the event planners pulled the plug—but all day, people have been showing up in Rachel, Nevada anyway, which makes sense when you think about the kinds of people planning on raiding Area 51 in the first place.
The actual Area 51 raid is expected to occur from 3AM to 6AM tonight. Currently, the highway leading to Area 51, also known as Extraterrestrial Highway, is expecting heavy traffic and will be heavily policed.
Tomorrow is also the Global Climate Strike, which is expected to be the world's largest day of climate change activism. This day of protest was started by Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg, who began sitting outside her nation's Parliament every Friday in protest of global inaction on the climate crisis. The event quickly grew into a movement called Fridays for Future and has gained traction as the effects of climate change have become more undeniable and tangible.
Tomorrow, there will be an expected 4,638 climate strikes around the world, happening everywhere from Moscow to New York. In NYC, 1.1 million students will be allowed to skip school for the event, and millions more are expected to take to the streets. The strike has also garnered support from global trade unions and employees of giant companies like Google and Amazon. (Find and RSVP for your local strike here).
At first glance, these events seem like polar opposites. The main difference between the Area 51 raid and the global climate strikes is that the climate strikes are essentially dedicated to supporting life and ensuring a viable future on earth. On the other hand, the Area 51 raids are nihilistic, and a lot of the online discourse surrounding them seems to imply that there is nothing worth saving.
But when you look closer at the true nature of these parallel events, the more entangled their purposes seem. Attending a global climate strike means that you've accepted the terrifying notion that human civilization will end unless we mobilize on a mass scale, whereas the Area 51 raid requires a certain suspension of disbelief and denial, a certain faith in the extraterrestrial unknown, and at least a somewhat antagonistic view towards science and realism. That means that, essentially, the climate strike is way more punk than the Area 51 raid.
Maybe the events are more similar than they are different. They are both protests against the government and the people who are currently in power. They're both essentially products of young people's growing awareness that the world is not as it seems, that we don't have to listen to the rules we've always been taught, and that there's so much more going on behind the scenes than we know.
Obviously, the climate strikes are the way to go if you care about anything at all, want to make an actual change to the way the government and the world works, and/or want to avoid seeing poor and impoverished communities die in vast numbers over the next few decades while the rich take their spaceships to Mars. Unfortunately, in a lot of ways, raiding Area 51 and finding a bunch of aliens sounds more fun. It's kitschy and spooky; it's also more appealing if you're addicted to the internet or deeply depressed, due to its fundamentally apathetic and masochistic nature; and perhaps the climate movement could learn from the Area 51 initiative's viral nature.
Fortunately, the truth is that you don't have to choose between them. You can have it all: ou can honor your depressive and post-ironic impulses while still making an effort to change the world. The Area 51 raid is going to happen from 3AM to 6AM, so you technically can go to that and (if you don't get arrested) be at the Nevada City rally by midmorning. You can "find them aliens" and save the world, while evading capitalism and giving a middle finger to the U.S. government in the process.
Yes, that entire sentence sounds like something out of an absurdist comic book, and the simulation is becoming as glitchy as a group text with one Android in it. But like it or not, we're all in this messed up cosmic group text together. Now let's take this to the f*cking streets.