Are you looking for love and also believe that shape-shifting reptilian aliens control the Earth? Do you like posting cherry blossom petal pictures on Instagram and discussing the 9/11 Truth? Well you're in luck, because there is now a dating site just for you! Launched on the 13th of April, Awake Dating is the brainchild of self-proclaimed Australian "truther" Jarrod Fidden and joins the likes of Dating Freedom Lovers and Paranormal Date.
A month in, the site has notched up over 4,0000 'awake' members – not be confused with "woke" people, apparently – and by the sounds of it, Jarrod has big plans. He's just hired a chief technology officer from the US, a legal representative team and numerous coders. He revealed plans for a social networking site this week too, and is meant to be pushing out an app next.
I've been single for a while now, and am partial to the odd alternative lunar landing theory, so set up a profile. The site's still pretty basic, but its simplicity does make it easy to navigate. It's got all the usual bits: a profile to which you add a photo, choose what genders you're interested in and specify your interests, ranging from political manipulation and deception to chocolate.
From what my algorithms returned, looking for love on Awake Dating mostly consists of wading through a sea of webcam selfies of white middle-aged men with a glint in their eye, but I'm convinced there is a more to it than that. To find out, I spoke to Jarrod and we chatted about the gaping hole he's aiming to fix in the conspiracy theorist dating market. I recorded the call, and so did he.
VICE: Can you describe what you mean by the term "awake"?
Jarrod Fidden: The meaning differs from person to person. For me, it's somebody who is more on an in-depth critical thinker, they question the mainstream narrative.
Have you always been "awake' or did that worldview come later on in life?
I guess people throughout history have always questioned life and its meaning, whether it be politics or whatnot. On a personal level, perhaps I've always been a seeker of truths and that's led me to where we are today.
Do you think the term conspiracy theorist has negative connotations?
Certainly. It would be valuable to research how the term conspiracy theorist came into its current meaning, as someone who is on the wrong track or a nut. There was a memo or something that went out to the New York Times; my facts aren't strong on this. Go and Google it yourself you'll find out.
Conspiracies happen trillions of times perhaps every day. The definition of a conspiracy is just two or more people coming together and planning something without the knowledge of others and a theory is often based in factional science. Evolution is a theory! When you put conspiracy and theory together, there shouldn't be an immediate reaction that makes you think someone is nuts.
Right. What was it that made you want to create Awake Dating?
My wife and I were very fortunate to get into our research together, we are both well-educated and switched-on. We personally spent thousands of hours doing independent research into alternate topics – and I mean literally thousands.
What did you learn?
Our research put us into a state of belief that was socially inconvenient. It's much easier if you are happy with what goes on in the world. Through that we realised that this state of belief was distancing ourselves from the other people around us. We thought it must be a horrible scenario for single people who have the same "awake" understanding as us, or have done similar research. So based on that Awake Dating was born.
So, you felt your beliefs were pushing others away?
Our understanding developed, and the things that were of interest to us weren't necessarily of interest to the people around us. And often they would prefer not to hear about those things.
That must be a feeling shared with a lot of people who are reading into that sort of thing. What kind of feedback have you got from the site so far?
We've had heaps of feedback! From simple messages of users saying thank you, to long paragraphs of writing saying thank you in one way or another. It's amazing that there are millions of people who are subscribing to the YouTube channels that carry alternative content, like Alex Jones and a number of others, yet there are so many areas that aren't being addressed in the market. The fringe communities are disenfranchised by the current offerings in online communications so we are hoping to step in to offer an alternative.
What conspiracy theory most rings true to you?
The one that holds most heed for us is the illusion of money. Obviously money is just paper and it's made up by the central banks of the world and they are privately owned, so they have the right to make money out of thin air and we don't.
Do you think you will have the same stance on the illusion of money if you turn Awake Dating into a profitable business?
These things unfortunately are not free to do; I have invested near enough 50,000 euros of my own money into this in the last month alone. We do well on our business model and I think to succeed you must.
Have you or anyone you know ever worn a tin foil hat?
Nope, but I may start a 'Tin Foil Hat of the Month' profile photo competition on site!
Conspiracy theories have a tendency to be linked to paranoia and other mental health issues. Do you have plans to put any wellbeing systems in place on the site?
That's very difficult to answer. What we want to do is facilitate the interchange of ideas and information and personal growth. If people are having difficulty with any subject matter it's of course up to the individual to take course and evaluate. If someone were to contact us we would try and provide any help that we could but, again, this isn't our job we are just a social platform.
Could love be a conspiracy?
Good question! Seeing that I am a man who is very much in love with his beautiful wife and two young children, who he absolutely adores, I'd say love is as real as waking in the morning.
More on VICE: