Autonomous sensory meridian response, dubbed ASMR, is the tingly sensation one feels course down the neck and spine from experiencing certain sounds. Imagine the delicate tapping of nails against a hard surface, the slight crackles of scratching a microphone or the intimate whispered word in an ear — these are just some of the methods ASMRtists on YouTube use to provide that relaxing feeling to their viewers.
But in the past year, the uproar around the ASMR community has risen to new heights. Just a few months ago, the New Yorker released a mini-documentary titled “How ASMR Became an Internet Phenomenon” featuring Maria, aka GentleWhispering, who has garnered over 1.4 million subscribers in the past years, and others as well. ASMRtists are blooming everywhere and accumulating massive amounts of subscribers in short periods of times, several appearing regularly on the trending page such as GibiASMR (1.2 M subscribers) and ASMR Darling (1.9 M subscribers). A single ASMR video can generate at least 16 million views, and the search for them on YouTube is constantly multiplying now.
Moreover, brands and other popular channels have also recognized the potential of this thriving trend. In August of 2017, Ikea created an advertisement modeled in ASMR format which resulted in millions of views of astonished people discovering and joining in this movement. ASMRtists are being sponsored by companies such as Best Fiends, Tic Tac, Swedish Fish, and Taco Bell. W Magazine integrated it into their wildly successful videos with celebrities dabbling with ASMR sounds, and YouTubers such as Shane Dawson and Dodie have also experimented with it.
ASMR has even ventured into the Hollywood scene with the advent of A Quiet Place, a critically acclaimed film directed by John Krasinski which tracks the survival of a family forced to live in silence. The movie is characterized by hushed tones, hand movements and rustling which are all indicative of ASMR experiences.
The reasons for this intrigue in ASMR are plain: It’s pleasurable to listen to and extremely relaxing. Maria explains receiving feedback from her audience in “How ASMR Became an Internet Phenomenon,” recounting grateful words from overwhelmed college students and traumatized war veterans. ASMR doesn’t just foster a superficial effect, but also helps ameliorate anxiety and insomnia.
These cross the line for many and impose an image of ASMR as a fetish.
On the other hand, part of the public is also disturbed by ASMR. The augment of ASMR fame has led to a more adventurous array of themes like roleplaying a vicious blood-sucking vampire (with actual fake blood) or whispering erotically. These cross the line for many and impose an image of ASMR as a fetish. Moreover, there’s also the case of misophonia, where people genuinely hate the sound and sensation of ASMR rather than enjoy it. Whispering, tapping and dripping water can cause extreme discomfort for those with misophonia.
Despite the negative receptions, it’s evident that ASMR is on the fast track to becoming a mainstream concept in the YouTube world. What do you think of this booming community? Are you a staunch supporter of whispers and tapping, or do you prefer to sleep in silence instead? Nowadays, the public is quickly divvying themselves up into either of these two perspectives.
Photo Credit: doddlevloggle via YouTube