On Sept. 20, Rachel, Nevada, the closest town to Area 51, will be sharing it’s 7.6 square mile town with a crowd of up to 25,000 people. With a total population of 54 people, Rachel’s occupancy could increase to 463 times the normal number in the span of a day.
It’s all thanks to an event called Alienstock, born from the internet Facebook page created two months ago entitled “Storm Area 51, They Can’t Stop All of Us.” Alienstock, masterminded by 20-year-old Matty Roberts, creator of the Facebook group, replaces the viral Area 51 raid with a festival boasting live music, food and amenities like Emergency Medical Services and security. But how can a town with only one hotel and a population of less than one hundred accommodate all of these people?
The event, which is being planned by Roberts and a local bar called A’Le’Inn, still hasn’t shared many important planning details, which is worrying locals and leading authorities to prepare a declaration of emergency in case the event goes south. Since the number of attendees can’t be predicted, the ability to provide adequate necessities to attendees is compromised and the residents can’t know what to expect on the day of the event.
This event is eerily similar to past events, like TanaCon or Fyre Festival, that gained large followings on the internet but ultimately fell to disaster due to factors like poor planning or being in over their heads. Based on the resemblance, I project that Alienstock is headed for a double-whammy disaster of overcrowding a town and under-providing for the attendees.
TanaCon, an event put on by a YouTuber as an alternative to Vidcon, was shut down after the first day left fans crowded together outside for hours without seeing the event or even getting water. Fyre Festival, a “luxury experience,” turned out to be anything but luxurious and failed to provide basic human necessities like shelter. Both events had problems with delivering what was advertised to their attendees because of the out-of-control attendance.
With Alienstock’s Facebook page projecting a crowd of 10,000-25,000, we’re essentially watching history repeat itself — but instead of a location meant for thousands like TanaCon or Fyre Festival, it’s in a town of less than a hundred.
Despite authorities advising against the ill-planned event and locals condemning it, over 10,000 people have RSVP’d to Alienstock, and over 13,000 more are interested in it. Alienstock is headed the way of TanaCon and Fyre Festival, and it’s because the internet allows under-qualified people to set possibly inadvisable plans into motion, and include thousands of clueless people in the event.
Both TanaCon and Fyre Festival were highly attended because of the events’ social media exposures — YouTuber Tana Mongeau, the host of TanaCon, was able to build a following for the event through her nearly five million YouTube followers. Fyre Festival’s clout was built on the misleading promotional posts done by famous models like Bella Hadid and Kendall Jenner. Alienstock’s following was created through a viral meme from Facebook. Social media allows bandwagons to form around events like this, leading to high numbers of people subscribing to something before they’ve considered the reliability or consequences.
One of the most problematic shortcomings all three events share is inability to supply everyone attending with things like water and space — TanaCon left many attendees outside of the actual event in the heat for hours without means of hydration, and some of Fyre Festival’s VIP guests were forced to sleep outside due to the shortage of shelters set up to stay in.
Alienstock’s website says that for water purposes, “Rachel has a well ready for use, we only need to secure the equipment needed to process the water for hydration stations.” A well built in a town of under one hundred people hydrating over 10,000 thirsty alien apprehenders in Nevada’s hot climate? Even if there is technically enough water, the two day festival could consume roughly a year’s worth of the town’s water.
“Locals are not kept in the loop and they certainly are not happy about this event that is likely to bring chaos to Rachel,” writes a resident on Rachel, Nevada’s official website. “Law enforcement will be overwhelmed and local residents will step up to protect their property. It could get ugly. Please consider visiting our town another time.”
Alienstock is upsetting locals and authorities and doesn’t have control over how many attendees will show up or how they are going to adequately provide an unknown number of people with necessities like water. The situation isn’t under their control — and their website practically says it, too.
“This event is taking place whether we set up or not,” The site reads. “It’s basically its own entity now.”
That’s the problem — it’s so out of hand that the predicted attendance’s margin of uncertainty is 13,000 people, in a town of less than 100.
Posting memes about aliens on the internet is one thing, but we need to not put 10,000 extraterrestrial enthusiasts and 54 innocent residents in danger for the sake of a party evolved from a viral meme.