Aliens or suspicious surveillance? The internet reacts to the Chinese spy balloons incident

By Mason Berlinka

Published Feb 14, 2023 at 03:54 PM

Reading time: 2 minutes

Do you believe in alien life? Well if you do, it’s likely that your heart was played with last week, as the world was faced with dramatic news of unidentified flying objects being shot down over the US. What this led to was classic internet ‘memeing’ and speculation, backed up by the US military’s claims that they had “not ruled out” the possibility of alien interference. Despite this latest turn of event, we do know that the first balloon was in fact a Chinese spying device.

The device in question—which was shot down on Saturday 4 February 2023—was a massive floating balloon that was said to be gently making its way through the air over US military bases containing sensitive information. Merely a weather monitoring airship that had blown astray, claimed the Chinese government.

It seemed like that was going to be it for the tension-raising tale, but what followed was the discovery of even more unidentified objects, the language surrounding them now ambiguous and mysterious. The excitement flared again when Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau ordered a US warplane to shoot down one of the flying objects which had ended up wandering over northern Canada on Saturday. Suddenly, this all seemed way more serious. Was the US being defended from foreign threats or extraterrestrial ones?

Naturally, netizens did what they know best and began to speculate endlessly about the possibility of alien life and even conflict among nations. Opening the memes with the best news: actress, performer and all-around icon Liza Minnelli has outlived the spy balloon.

The internet has kept up momentum, tying in the spy balloon drama with the strange backup dancers spotted during Rihanna’s performance at last weekend’s Super Bowl.

Redditors were also relishing in the alien discourse, with one user making a comparison between a headline urging Americans to not take “pot shots” at the UFOs, with a line from Independence Day.

Comment
byu/PresidentSpanky from discussion
innottheonion

The same headlines urging people not to shoot at the “aliens” prompted this hilarious comparison between that time a group of American southerners tried to kill a drone. Classic Americans.

Finally Twitter’s current despot, Elon Musk couldn’t help himself and weighed in on the speculation, confirming what we always knew about him—that he’s probably an alien.

My personal favourite meme from the onslaught of posts dominating my feed was this one which compared the current alien panic with that of the pandemic we all just suffered through. Are we going to get a UFO lockdown and UFO paid leave? Unlikely.

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A post shared by @harrisonlambert_memes

Despite the memes and good spirits online, many users were quick to point out the possibility of this so-called sighting simply being a news cycle distraction. All carefully orchestrated to keep the media focus away from information surrounding the utter ecological disaster that Ohio is currently facing following a chemical train derailment. Light hearted memeing or government psy-op? You decide.

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