The internet is obsessed with ASMR videos, but what is it?
Does the sound of a crinkling bag or fingers tapping a table make you feel tingly? What about someone whispering in your ear? If the sound of someone tapping on a wooden box makes you feel really relaxed or tingly you may be experiencing ASMR.
ASMR has become a YouTube phenomenon; there are countless ASMR videos that have been watched millions and millions of times.
“ASMR stands for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response,” says Aaron, an ASMR enthusiast and video creator who goes by ASMR Destiny on YouTube.
He prefers to not share his last name.
“It’s basically a physical response to a particular sound or visual,” he said. “It actually makes you feel good. It’s a tingly sensation on your head, back, neck, or pretty much anywhere.”
After years of watching and benefiting from ASMR videos he started making his own, in his home video studio in Sammamish.
“I’ve actually experienced this ever since I was a kid but I didn’t know what it was actually called, or if it was even called anything,” Aaron said. “It was actually through a Google search; I was searching for how to cure migraines and I found a video of a lady on YouTube that said, ‘Here’s an ASMR video for migraines.’ I was like, what is that? So I clicked on it and after listening to it I started getting the same tingly sensation I had when I was a kid. Like watching Bob Ross when he paints. It’s really relaxing.”
Aaron says he used to constantly get migraines, but after six months of watching these videos he only gets one or two a year now.
There isn’t really much science behind ASMR. My research led me to a single study done by a couple grad students, one who didn’t want to be interviewed and the other who never responded to my request. But it doesn’t really matter. People don’t need scientific proof to know that certain sounds make them feel good.
“One thing I really like is just the sound of someone talking really close to my ear, whispering,” Aaron said. “What they call ‘ear cleanings’ is really popular ASMR. Those can get really intense. It sounds like a Q-Tip inside of your ear and it’s moving around in there and it makes a kind of rustling sound. It’s really triggering for me.”
Many ASMR lovers also like listening to quiet, repetitive sounds, like the turning pages of a book, or watching and listening to someone have their hair brushed.
Aaron says role play is also really popular. In one video, he dresses in doctor’s scrubs to give an ear cleaning and the way the camera is positioned, it feels like you’re actually getting the exam. He uses a special microphone that looks like an ear to make it sound like he’s in your own ears.
Aaron is quick to point out that there is nothing sexual about the videos or the sensations that people experience.