If you frequent any social media account, there’s a high chance that you’ve encountered clips of hands poking slime, mixing paint or cutting kinetic sand. These often satisfying videos are related to a an experience containing four letters that many have heard before and few can explain: ASMR.
Simply type in “ASMR” in Google and you will stumble across a myriad of YouTubers staring directly into their cameras, whispering into their mics, tapping on boxes and containers, brushing hair, playing with putty and much more. These videos are often viewed millions of times, but why is it so popular? ASMR, otherwise known as “autonomous sensory meridian response” is a phenomenon defined on Wikipedia as “an experience characterized by a static-like or tingling sensation on the skin that typically begins on the scalp and moves down the back of the neck and upper spine.” The whispers, tapping, brushing, etc. viewed on screen are called “triggers” which bring out the pleasurable tingling response. ASMR has even been compared to pornography; however, this is certainly not the case and the sensation is often never sexual. Sufferers of depression, anxiety, insomnia and other stress-inducing circumstances resort to ASMR videos in search of those tingles and use it as an outlet for relaxation. Some of the most common triggers for tingles include scratching, tapping and chewing sounds. Bob Ross is said to be an ASMR pioneer by using a soft spoken voice and audible brush stroke sounds. His show is adored by millions and can make people tingle like they have Spidey senses! Medical research has not been done in depth on this particular response. In fact, only one research paper has been published concluding that ASMR rarely reflects sexuality, rather vulnerability. According to The Guardian, psychologists are struggling to research the meridian response as it is an “inherently personal, private experience, and perhaps one that hasn’t traditionally lent itself to cropping up in conversation all that often.” As of now, scientists and psychologists are studying as to how ASMR could be used as a therapy treatment.
If you wish to look more into the world of ASMR, popular YouTube channels include Peaceful Cuisine and Gentle Whispering ASMR. After a long day at school and work, it can’t hurt to try. It could be the best decision you ever make for your relaxation!