I'll admit, when I first heard about ASMR, I shuddered. The idea of listening to a stranger whisper, make extremely loud mouth sounds, brushing sounds and eat...audibly, is essentially my worst nightmare. To my surprise, I quickly found out that to millions of people, it is the exact opposite.
ASMR stands for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response, a phenomenon that is a little hard to describe. For many, ASMR triggers individuals to experience a tingling, static-like sensation across the scalp, back of the neck and at times further areas in response to specific triggering audio and visual stimuli, which is what makes it so popular on YouTube.
In a study conducted on ASMR when the phenomenon first because popular, it was found that "there is a suggestion that ASMR may be of use for providing temporary relief to individuals with depression, stress and chronic pain." So, ASMR is not just something that makes your hair stand on end, but it can be beneficial to mental health too.
Many people I know find ASMR food videos most entertaining. I also know one person (who I wont name) who likes to fall asleep to the sound of people eating pickles. This information has lead me into a research rabbit hole. While I still cannot stand the sound of people audibly eating, I have found a selection of videos by a YouTuber who goes by the username 'itsblitzzz' who posts an array of ASMR videos in which she essentially just pats her friends heads until they nod off, oddly comforting. I will say I still felt awkward, like I was secretly observing some kind of intimate gesture of friendship, but I guess it's designed to be quiet and relatively still, something that so much video content out there is not.
Perhaps in a world where we are all over stimulated to the point that videos that exceed the five minute mark become tiresome, ASMR exists to quieten some of that noise, on screen and beyond. Could this be the thing that relieves the rampant pandemic fuelled anxiety that lives inside us all right now?
The possibilities and variations of 'triggers' (the term used that sparks the tingling sensation people experience) are seemingly endless when it comes to ASMR. Some people like pickle eating, others are into the sound of tapping, faux beauty therapy experiences or even the sound of someone smiling, which begs the question, do you watch ASMR?
If you do, what's your trigger?