If you’ve been around the internet lately, you’ve probably seen or at least heard about the strange posters that offer a phone number to call for a so-called “Dream Survey.” Let’s dive into these posters and debunk some common theories and ideas surrounding them. A lot of talks have been going on about these posters, ranging from the idea of it being a real-world cult to it simply being an ARG project. But what is really going on?
The first posters popped up in Portland, Oregon in 2015, for the Willamette Valley Dream Survey and were subsequently posted to Reddit. This survey was linked to a hacktivist collective centered in Portland called Futel, which sets up free-to-use phones across multiple cities in the US with the purpose of providing people that can’t afford such services with free phone service.
The phones happen to also offer a directory of art projects, which at one point included this Dream Survey.
In an interview conducted by an Oregon newspaper, Futel CEO Karl Andersen stated that he found the survey through one of the posters. . Andersen claims to know nothing of the artist behind this original dream survey or its purpose.
He simply thought it was interesting, and decided to put on the Futel phone lines.
It’s worth to note that Andersen is not a stranger when it comes to absurd art projects, as he also hosts the ‘Church of Robotron‘. Which is a rabbit whole in its own right.
The Happy Valley sighting.
Another survey wasn’t spotted until 2020, which was the Happy Valley Dream Survey in Utah. This was followed just a couple months later by the Magic Valley Dream Survey (the posts about this particular survey on r/RBI have since been deleted, however, the Imgur album containing pictures of the poster still exists).
The 2015 Willamette Valley and the 2020 Happy Valley dream survey poster are very similar, which obviously hasn’t gone unnoticed by internet detectives and You Tubers alike.
Unsurprisingly, when the Magic Valley poster first surfaced, Futel was the prime suspect for being behind the project once again.
Questions immediately arose as though why the company could behind all of this? Why they be interested in the descriptions of dreams, to begin with? Theories range from it being the work of a cult to a way of data mining. Was something sinister going on behind the scenes?
Inner Workings explained
Just like back in 2015, when calling the number, the user would be prompted to share the details of their dreams. You then receive a text message thanking you for submitting your dream to the survey.
It just so happened that calling the Magic Valley Dream Survey number would at times prompt a response in the form of a text message.
However, some people have received additional texts in response to their messages. The most notable of these responses mention September 5th, 2020, in what happens to be the Chinese dialect.
This date, ‘9 goeh 5 jit’ as the message reads, may seem random, but a quick google search leads you to the /r/5thseptember2020 sub-Reddit.
Now it wouldn’t come as a surprise to many that nothing of any substance actually took place on the 5th of September. The sub-Reddit is now filled with posts making fun of the creators. Just another incorrect doomsday prediction and there’s that, right?
Ever since it first surfaced it has been hard to make any sense of this subreddit altogether. Posts from certain key users hint at some form of world-building. Most of these posts are so vague and unsubstantial however that they raise more questions than they answer.
Are these the ramblings of a cult mixed with a bunch of internet trolls? What about the incorrect doomsday prediction? And what has this subreddit to do with Futel?
Why wasn’t Futel mentioned even once if they were the ones behind this?
No solid links between these new posters and the original Willamette Valley Dream Survey have conclusively been found. This suggests that the new posters may be a “gamejack” of sorts.
While the original was quite clearly a simple art project. The new posters seem to have been made to draw people into the r/5thSeptember2020 roleplaying experience/ARG by copying the style and idea of the original. It’s also worth noting that the Happy Valley and the Magic Valley posters aren’t the only copycats.
More recently the same version of the poster surfaced in Ontario, Canada. This one sported a cicada logo of all things. Whether or not they are all copying one another or all based on the original 2015 poster is irrelevant. It remains very unlikely that anything more sinister at play here.
A cult of sorts would certainly act upon the numerous unknowing ‘victims’ reporting in their dreams.
With the term ‘cult’ being thrown around so much on the internet as of late, it is nothing more than a meaningless label used to reel in YouTube views or article clicks.
As for the claim of it being data mining, there at least some evidence to back up this claim, albeit it not what people make it out to be.
Futel works with phone operators, which you can get in touch with by choosing one of the options in the menu of their payphones. These operators keep a paraphrased log of the conversations they have with their callers. Since Futel hosted the 2015 Dream Survey, the more recent poster reignited the interest in the company. This resulted in the operators receiving more inquiries about the dream survey. The logs of these conversations were uploaded to a public GitHub and discovered by internet detectives. And so, logging phone conversations turned into a nefarious form of data mining.
Things are often not what they seem. (John Titor anyone?). This especially true for internet mysteries such as this one. Whether or not you find the outcome disappointing or not, it makes for good entertainment.