And by “cool,” I mean controversial and infamous! The internet phenomenon that is intended for relaxation purposes by way of “tingles” has been everywhere for the past few years. The videos, often on YouTube, involve a person or several people, usually turned towards the camera as if they are speaking to it. They attempt to master the “triggers” intended to create the tingly and relaxed sensation, and these triggers include anything from whispering to playing with slime to unboxing makeup to clinking beads. It is an incredibly personal and yet oddly distant corner of the internet, with so much of its content being geared towards two people interacting with each other. It is a vast audience, and yet it is always an audience of one. People of all kinds have gotten involved with ASMR including those who make other, more traditional YouTube videos. They will make their normal content, infused with chewing into microphones and whispering everything they possibly can. People make parodies of ASMR as well, inserting random murmuring into reality shows and emphasizing chip crunching. It is often considered to be a sign of the lack of closeness in our world–we need to recreate it digitally.
Regardless, I feel that when it comes to ASMR, I have a precedence. I liked it before it became a meme. I remember watching early ASMR-geared videos on YouTube in my family’s “computer room”–yes, it was that time–as a 12 or 13-year-old. These videos were mostly in lo-fi and mostly focused on caregiving and personal attention, and very much made for a certain community. It was not ironic and it was made with care.
I do like that ASMR has become more popular. It certainly makes finding good artists or videos easier. It opens up a conversation about what it means that we are trying so hard to make intimate environments within the distance of the internet. But I miss the original, homey feel of ASMR. We all felt as if we were actually participating in a new form of internet, and not simply participating in a mildly ridiculous fad. I do hope we find a new place to go to.