The first person I meet on PuffPuffChat lives in Scotland. It's dark, so I can't really see him, but he looks like he's freaking out a little, and he doesn't seem that interested in talking to me. Our conversation goes something like this:
You  are now chatting with a  Person
 Person: u baked man
You : lol
You : not at all
You : will be in a little bit
 Person: i'm kipping haha
 Person: where u from
You : brooklyn ny
You : you?
 Person: SCOTTLAAAND
 Person: FREEEEEEDOM
You : whoa awesome
You : hahah
You : what's up in scotland
You : what time is it there?
 Person: like 11.38om
 Person: pm
 Person: fuck all here mate
 Person: sweet fuck all
PuffPuffChat is Chatroulette for stoners. Upon entering the site, you're asked whether you'd prefer text or video, then paired in an anonymous chat room with a random weed-smoker somewhere in the world. The little number next to your name is supposed to signify how high you are: In the conversation above, I, a zero, am sober. My Scottish friend, a nine, is "kipping."
People on PuffPuffChat like weed. A lot. Enough to log on to a chat room devoted to it. But they're also united by a higher-minded purpose: unlike the dick-showing, a/s/l'ing hordes that populate similar sites, they are out for smart, civilized conversation. One person I talk to tells me PuffPuffChat is good for having "spontaneous intellectual discussions without the context of 'self'"; another says that the people you meet "are intelligent enough to hold conversations and not just put stupid things up like Chatroulette would, such as =====D." The conversations I have over the course of a few days using it—about music, and shitty jobs, and drugs, lots of talk about drugs—are engaging and funny a little more often than they're not. PuffPuffChatters, like stoners at large, are an affable bunch. (There's an apparent demographic unity, too: Everyone I talk to who offers up such information is a man aged 18 to 25 or so.)
The site launched in May of this year, and has slowly picked up steam since then. On Reddit, users are wondering whether the golden age is already over, which seems like a good sign that the community is thriving. And as the Daily Dot points out, users sadly search for PuffPuffChat missed connections on another dedicated subreddit. (Sample post, sic throughout: "Nora from Louisiana this is Brett fron Louisiana. You were 18 im 16 we talked about Kelsey and the importsnt things in life." No responses.)
According to 22-year-old founder Eric (just Eric), that focus on the importsnt things in life in intentional. He said in a recent interview with AdWeek:
I feel that high conversations have a unique quality to them. Whenever a friend and I sit down for a smoking session, it seems our communication occurs on a brand-new wavelength. We both feel a heightened sense of camaraderie and openness, and the conversation flows effortlessly and into novel and unexpected territories. PuffPuffChat was created to enable the people of the cannabis community to share these magical sessions with people from all around the world.
The second person I meet on PuffPuffChat is a friendly college student from California with a pair of comically oversized sunglasses on his forehead. We talk, out loud this time, about his upcoming trip to Las Vegas, my recent visit to the dentist ("Oh, sounds like you do need some weed, man!"), his writerly ambitions ("After I read The Old Man and the Sea I got really into that scene,") and a vacation he once took in New York ("I think I fell in love 32 times or something. It was great.") He offers me some unsolicited advice about sex and fingernail hygiene, and we awkwardly say goodbye.
Feeling confident after my first real conversation, I fire up PuffPuffChat again, and see a familiar, smiling face—giant V. Stiviano shades and all. "Awww, dude!", my new friend exclaims. "Same person!" He gives me a tip: potheads can be a socially anxious folk, duh, so people tend to chat text-only rather than use video. If you opt for face-to-face, you'll probably run into the same few people over and over. I switch to text.
California is right: talking face-to-face is high-pressure, and it requires a lot of attention. The beauty of being high on the internet is that every time your mind wants to change directions, you've got a railroad switch readily available, and with PuffPuffChat set to text and tucked away somewhere in your browser, it's just one of many distractions available to you on your journey. Feel like warm vocal harmonies and fuzzy VHS recordings? Just follow the track marked "Fleetwood Mac performance videos" and send your chat buddy some vintage Second Hand News. Want to learn a thing or two about Swedish Americans while you're at it? The Wikipedia page for this vibrant and exciting demographic group is only a tab away. Did you know James Franco has a little Swede in him?
Also Swedish, but Swedish-Swedish: the third person I meet on PuffPuffChat, a 20-year-old living near Stockholm whose unflappable positivity makes me feel warm and tingly all over (Or maybe it's just the weed?). A representative excerpt from our conversation:
 Person: yeah same, have you noticed the clouds up on this page
 Person: they express my mood so perfectly
You : hahah
You : how so
 Person: im listening to jazz and sitting on my most comfy chair
You : fluffy and peaceful?
 Person: i cant believe how nice it is
He's just sitting in a chair listening to music, and he can't believe how nice it is. By the time he mentions that he's always wanted to visit New York, I'm so smitten I almost invite him to stay at my apartment.
Then we start talking about work. He's a student, and he works "as a cleaner at a mental hospital lol," a job he describes, accurately I'm sure, as "trippy as shit." He spends his day among "lunatics," "addicts," and "little girls that are so skinny it just breaks my heart," he says, but his most intense story involves a naked grandma.
 Person: i got chased by a naked grandma last month
You : hahahahaha
You : are you serious?
 Person: hahah yeah, didnt know what to do
You : that's insane
You : was she prompted by anything to chase you?
You : or just out of nowhere
 Person: they imagine stuff sometimes, and she thought i did something and started chasing me. i dropped everything and started backing slowly while screaming for the nurses working there. they came pretty quickly so i was lucky, i didnt get to second base
 Person: well i was never on first base
Some other people I come across: a factory worker who likes to get high before going on the night shift, a rowdy group of American college kids (One is wearing a Rush t-shirt, and another visually threatens to pull his dick out), a Phish-fan wine salesman, a smoked-out philosopher who talks about third eyes and rediscovering life.
PuffPuffChat, like stonerdom itself, is a place where silliness rubs shoulders with serious talk, or at least the pursuit of it. An indicative exchange comes near the end of my conversation with the Californian college student. He's studying astrophysics, and tells me in a moment of disarming candidness how Neil DeGrasse Tyson inspired him to pursue the field: "If he's brown, and I'm slightly brown, it works out, right? It's possible?" I ask what he sees himself doing with his life after he graduates, and he answers in his best Nate Dogg voice: "Smoke weed every day."
[Image by Jim Cooke]