High There isn't the only option for stoners seeking love online, but it is the best. There are sites like 420 Singles and My 420 Mate, but they're handicapped by abysmal design and amateur coding; one called 420 Cupid never got around to sending me an activation email, even after two sign-up attempts. High There is slicker: a close approximation of successful mainstream dating apps. It has bright colors, cute graphics, the same pleasing swiping mechanism as Tinder. High There also cashes in on the simplicity that distinguishes Tinder from algorithmic sites like OKCupid: just input a first name and a photo, and you've built a profile. Although with High There, you first have to specify whether you prefer smoking, vaping, edibles, or "it's all good."
High There users' implicit common ground lessens the pressure to build connections from scratch. People are friendlier, seemingly comforted by the knowledge that you won't be judgmental. After setting up an account I begin non-discriminately swiping right—which, as with Tinder, means you want to chat. High There lets you see the profiles of users who share at least one of your primary levels of compatibility: preferred method of getting high, energy level once you're stoned (low, medium, or high), and whether you're interesting in chatting, going out, or staying in. Unlike Tinder, High There doesn't lean on the probability that two like-minded souls will eventually find each other. Every time someone swipes right on my profile, a "Chat Request" appears in my inbox, allowing me to connect directly with people who already like me. The messages that steadily start trickling in are mainly variations on "high" as a greeting and tidings of stoner good will: "Yoooo. blue dreamin," and, "Hope there's a good buzz out there for you today." Exchanges are bland and friendly; loose conversations drifting in and out without urgency. After playing around on the app before bed, I go to sleep pleasantly surprised that—unlike during my brief dalliance with Tinder—no one has asked me to sit on their face.
The invitation to "come chill and smoke" is a frequent proposition on High There—one that personally makes me nervous.
I don't realize the potential disadvantages of the chat request system until I wake up the following morning. With 172 new invitations, the app starts to lag and freeze; it becomes harder to approve any incoming requests, so I focus on a conversation I've already started with a dude named Connor. He tells me he's actually met up with a couple people from High There, "and had a few interesting cyphers with strangers." I confess I'm writing a piece about the app and Connor offers to let me interview him. "If you want to come over this weekend, get stoned, watch a few stupid movies I'd be willing to be a 'frequent' user of the app," he writes. The invitation to "come chill and smoke" is a frequent proposition on High There—one that personally makes me nervous. Going to a strange house to do drugs with someone I've only cyber-met feels patently unsafe, mutual interest in "TV/Movies" and "Food" aside. Instead, I suggest we get a drink the following night. Connor agrees, but bails the day of. "I'm more of a smoker than a drinker," he writes, "and I'm getting the impression that you don't smoke?"
I do smoke, but I'm not a stoner. I have a fancy vape because I got it for free, and an eighth will easily last me more than a month. Most often I smoke in bed, right before I go to sleep. Scrolling past my failed chat with Connor, I see a request from someone I actually know IRL, a 28-year-old coworker named Nikhil. The next day he tells me he doesn't identify as a stoner either—at least not anymore—and that he downloaded the app as a joke and "can't really see it past that." After a week or two he dismissed it as inferior to Hinge and Tinder. "I was trying to find chicks on it," he says, "but there's just a lot of dudes who want to smoke blunts and play Mario Kart." When I ask Nikhil if he'll delete High There, he shrugs: "I have enough room on my phone." A few days later he hits me up on gchat; he's going on a High There date but he'll only tell me about it anonymously. I check in a week later and ask if he ended up going. "Nah," he types back, "I think I'm giving up online dating."
Two weeks in, my High There profile has 669 chat requests, rendering it basically unusable. I take it as a sign and build a whole new profile with the bio "Hallo! Looking for new friends" (well under the cheeky 420 character limit). I only browse female profiles and swipe right on almost everyone. It's slow-going, but people start to chat with me. I realize that thinking of High There as an addition to the over-saturated hook-up app market might be misguided. When you take dating out of the equation, High There is kind of great for finding new buds. It clears the hurdles that many young-ish adults—having left the college campus or taken a job in an unfamiliar city—face in making new friends. I bond with a girl named Alysa over getting too emotionally invested in Keeping Up With The Kardashians when I'm high, and I tell a girl named Kayla about the first time I smoked. I develop a good rapport with a girl named Daria and get up the courage to invite her to a comedy show I'm going to later that night. "If that isn't too weird," I add. She tells me she has dinner with friends but assures me it's not weird at all: "What else are these stupid apps for," she writes, "If not to actually hang?"
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