The easy moral here would be to tie people’s alienated, online selves to the physical versions they expressed jubilantly, in costume, with other seekers dancing at the edge of the unknown. As Twitter users watching the alien memes unfold, we were alienated. As attendees wearing alien-eye sunglasses, we were not alone.
But the media also wants to capture a disaster.
Reports of what happened during Storm Area 51 made it sound like a bust. Barely anyone showed, and we were fools for sending camera crews about 50 miles from the nearest gas station to photograph some guy in a mask kicking up dust.
With reporters rapt but ultimately dismissive of the event, we all moved onto the next viral oddity — mostly. Others are still proposing “storms,” like that of the video-game company convention BlizzCon on Nov. 1 in Anaheim, Calif., to make a serious political statement in a perplexingly lighthearted way.