Stoners have found their ideal messaging app

Reducing interpersonal communication to a basic set of pictograms.

Feb 29, 2020, 6:13 pm*

Internet Culture


Dylan Love

Too high to send a coherent message to a friend? There’s an app for that.

Chill! is a stripped-down messaging app that lets you send basic pictograms and emoji to your friends. Instead of requiring you to type out bespoke texts for every single situation, it capitalizes on your different relationships to make the same set of images useful at handling a variety of conversations. The App Store description says you might send a friend the coffee icon to suggest you’re at the Starbucks by your office, or send a rocket picture to convey that you’re running late. 

This low-resolution communication paradigm ought to find a fanbase amongst Apple Watch users; Chill!’s site describes its aim of becoming “the first app that makes sense for wearables.” And because it distills the complexities of communication down to visual approximations of meaning, it’s found an even more niche clientele: socially engaged stoners.

iPhone screenshots of the Chill! app.

iPhone screenshots of the Chill! app.

App Store

A tipster tells the Daily Dot that he first learned of the app on product-tracking website ProductHunt, shared the link amongst his friends, and began using it with them in the conventional, proposed-use circumstances. While later smoking marijuana with these friends, inspiration struck. “I was too [stoned] to ask my bud for a beer. Sent the icon. Just for fun. Hoping he would get the point. Surprisingly got what I expected,” he said.

While the app may certainly have its advantages in more practical arenas, it’s valuable here for drastically reducing the barrier to formulating one’s thoughts, perhaps a common problem when one is under the influence of marijuana. “There is sometimes a situation when you start writing [a text] and, like, forget to send [it],” our source told the Daily Dot.

Fittingly, the most complex idea he has successfully conveyed to another using the app’s limited “language” was an invitation to come over to smoke weed: a gust-of-wind icon, followed by a rocket.

Apple Watch screenshots for Chill!

Apple Watch screenshots for Chill!

App Store

Therein lies a potentially hidden charm of the app: It is secure in a way that no other communications system really is. Chill! relies almost entirely on context to communicate an idea, and context is beyond encryption. A third party could happen across the previously mentioned marijuana invitation and have no idea what he or she was reading.

Chill! is the work of developer and entrepreneur Kirill Chekanov, who told the Daily Dot that it was “fun to hear that [stoners] use it this way.” 

He’s also glad to have the demographic’s attention and sees it as a sign of success; the fact that stoners use Chill! suggests Chekanov has “achieved simplicity in usage and understanding,” he said.

After all, words are just words, man.

Photo via A. Breaux/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

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*First Published: Oct 8, 2015, 10:00 am