What Does the Area 51 Raid and Depressed Teens Have in Common?

The Link Between Depression Memes and Overall Mental Health


Peyton Montgomery, Reporter

You’ve probably heard of the Storm Area 51 Facebook Event, in which millions ironically vowed to Naruto run their way to the United States Air Force facility located within the Nevada Test and Training Range on September 20th so they can “see dem aliens”. The event was created by Matty Roberts on June 27, 2019, who confirmed the event was purely comedic, unaware of the massive impact it would bring. 

The event, although intended as a joke, had an effect on businesses both locally in Nevada and around the United States. Two music festivals were also planned in nearby Lincoln County, Nevada: Storm Area 51 Basecamp in Hiko, Nevada and Alienstock in Rachel, Nevada. Air Force spokeswoman Laura McAndrews said government officials were briefed on the event and highly discouraged people from attempting to enter private military property. Nevada law enforcement also warned potential participants against trespassing. 

On the day of the event, only about 150 people were reported to have shown up at the entrance to Area 51, with none succeeding in entering the site; an estimated 1,500 attended the related festivals. Seven arrests were made for trespassing, including one for alcohol related reasons and one for indecent exposure.

As ridiculous as this entire situation was, the event unintentionally showed a seedy underbelly of the younger generations. More specifically, our twisted sense of humor.

A 2018 survey conducted by the American College Health Association found that more than six in ten undergraduates experienced overwhelming anxiety and four in ten had felt so depressed that they had difficulty functioning. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, more than one in four young adults (ages 18-25) have some degree of mental illness, the highest prevalence among all age groups. Even with the stigmas surrounding mental health have lessened considerably, there is still a large amount of shame surrounding these topics. Enter Depression Memes. 

These memes are a mixture of crippling sadness and prevailing laughter; the kind you can relate with at low times but most of late have been using this as a way of coping. A moment where one can forget about living with the ever present reality of the world and the crippling issues we’ve inherited from prior generations that make one feel utterly hopeless. 

But given the sheer number of these jokes available, a question is raised. Are these jokes a detriment to us as a whole? Now before you click away, I make these jokes too. Perhaps a bit too often and I’ve seen a change within myself as my use of them has lessened. 

In middle school I was always in a melancholy state. I frequently felt miserable and when I discovered other people felt the same way I was elated. But instead of just having a quick laugh and moving on with my day I saw this as a way to rationalize by feelings and thus latched on. Around this time I also experienced low self-esteem and self-image. And so rather than improve I kept making jokes and ignoring my issues. I started hating myself and my mind started going to some extremely dark places. But after a friend of mine’s suicide attempt and I felt the pain and anguish of nearly losing someone so close to me I realized I didn’t want my situation to become that bad. So I began to take a long hard look at myself. I studied my regular activities within a day. I was constantly making jokes that both crushed my confidence and made the people I was telling either uncomfortable or annoyed. And so I started forcing myself to be positive. Whenever I was inspecting my person I would focus on the things I liked rather than what I despised. Sonn I made more friends and I started feeling happier.

But here’s where we hit a snag. I’ve never been diagnosed with medical depression or anxiety and thus I don’t want this to come off as preachy. I realize people with these conditions have no control on how they feel. But they do have control over how they handle these feelings. You always have the ability to reach out. You are in control of that decision. No one else. 

Arapahoe is so open and welcoming; they practically beg you to tell them when something is bothering you. Teachers, counselors, and other students are here for you and are ready and willing to help you succeed. All you have to do is be ready and willing to open up. 

Also check out Wholesome Memes. You will not be disappointed.