What does eating gigantic slabs of honeycomb, slicing apart bars of soap, and running over uncooked spaghetti with a four wheeler all have in common? One, there is a plethora of YouTube and Instagram media that features recorded content of these activities. Two, these various sensational experiences have amassed a gigantic, ever-growing fan base dedicated to watching and creating satisfying videos of the same vein. And three, they all fall under the category of a type of audio-sensory therapy called ASMR.
ASMR, or Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response, is a physical experience triggered by certain perceptions of sound. Those that listen to ASMR have described a tingling in the spine or a general feelings of calmness when exposed to the sounds. In recent years, ASMR has skyrocketed in popularity, sweeping media platforms of all kinds. Entire Instagram accounts have become devoted to sharing various types of these satisfying channels, and so have YouTube accounts with subscriber counts in the millions.
The act of making ASMR videos can, to unfamiliar viewers, appear quite odd. Much of the content includes whispering different sounds or scripts into a microphone. Other types can include activities like tapping or scratching on hard surfaces, carving wood, or doing things that produce generally satisfying noises. As a result, opinions on ASMR are extremely divided, with some devoted listeners that swear by the relaxation method and others that cringe at it.
“I think it’s very soothing,” Victoria Scott ’23 said. “I personally have insomnia, and [ASMR] helps me fall asleep so much faster than I would normally fall asleep. I would definitely recommend it; it’s worth a try if you need something to help you sleep.”
First-year Chloe Warshaw, however, argues the other side. “It’s just uncomfortable. It feels like an unsolicited whisper in your ear.”
Love it or hate it, ASMR offers a bounty of positive effects for its viewers. Whether it’s the visual satisfaction of watching someone create ASMR videos or the pleasantness of the sounds being made, it serves as a way to relax and unwind. The schism between ASMR users and ASMR critics is extremely polarized, but at the end of the day, it isn’t a crime to seek some solace from life’s everyday hecticness.