In the middle of the Nevadan desert, outside a secretive US military airstrip, I found the world’s strangest social media convention.
Dozens of young, good-looking, often costumed people were running around filming each other with semi-professional video rigs. They were YouTube and Instagram stars – or, more often, aspiring stars – here to “storm” Area 51 for the benefit of their followers and free the aliens held captive within. Or at least film themselves talking about it.
Joining them was a ragged army of hundreds of stoners, UFO buffs, punk bands, rubberneckers, European tourists, people with way too much time on their hands, and meme-lords in Pepe the Frog costumes – all here because of the Internet, the ironic and the earnest alike, for a party at the end of the earth.