ASMR: The Collective Online Exhale

ASMR: The Collective Online Exhale

The Verge

[dropcap size=big]B[/dropcap]y now, you’ve probably at least heard or gazed upon the abbreviation ASMR. If you don’t spend much time online (good for you), chances are you have no effing clue what those four letters stand for.

Don’t worry, I’m going to enlighten you momentarily.

WhispersRedASMR, Latte ASMR, and ASMR Darling are just a handful of the creators churning out a new breed of relaxing content…but where to even begin?

Autonomous sensory meridian response is first and foremost a physical sensation, caused by any number of audio/visual stimuli (whispering and tapping being two of the most popular) and characterized by a distinct tingling sensation that usually spreads from scalp to spine.

People used to call it a “brain orgasm” before they decided on ASMR…I can see where they were going with that phrase but it’s not very scientific.

…caused by any number of audio/visual stimuli…and characterized by a distinct tingling sensation that usually spreads from scalp to spine.

Not everyone experiences the feeling, but those who do are often quick to seek it out and perhaps even share their discovery. After learning about the occurrence, many are able to identify pleasant past experiences that resulted in the tingly sensation as ASMR-related.

Think along the lines of getting your hair brushed my someone else, a game of Telephone, fingers drumming on a wooden desk. That sort of stuff.

Besides being bodily, ASMR has proven to be an online phenomenon as well.


Since the early 2010s, so-called ASMRtists have been creating content (most purposeful, some unintentional) on YouTube for the sole aim of helping people feel good. The online archive of videos, which grows every single day at an increasingly rapid rate, contains a wide range of formats and categories: trigger compilations, roleplays, and casual sit-down chats, to name a few.

Despite the fact that there isn’t a whole lot in the science department to back up ASMR, there are millions of viewers around the world who swear by its positive and calming effects.

In addition to insomnia, ASMR is often utilized as a way to deal with anxiety and/or depression

Though ASMR can be viewed at any point throughout the day or night, those that suffer from insomnia claim that the relaxing videos help them sleep. In addition to insomnia, ASMR is often utilized as a way to deal with anxiety and/or depression.

As of late, ASMR has become much more visible online and in mainstream media. With research slowly trickling out to support the science-y side of the phenomenon, and viewers consuming the content daily and sharing with those who either “get it” or can benefit from it, the genre is blowing up in the best possible way.

GentleWhisperingASMR, one of the OG channels that populated the YouTube platform, was even the focus of a New Yorker article earlier this year that drew even more attention to the subject.

Where From Here?

Personally, I’ve been watching ASMR videos before bed (and sometimes during the day if I’m feeling particularly stressed) for the last 5 years or so. As someone who struggles with anxiety and likes to have some background noise when they’re going to sleep, I’m grateful for the creative minds that put their time and effort into helping people like myself.

As technology continues to flourish, and acquiring professional equipment is reasonable for the average Joe and Jane, the quality and production value of ASMR will continue on its steady climb.

With some ASMR creators pursuing YouTube as a full-time career, and forging what are sure to be lucrative business relationships with popular brands like Blue Apron and FabFitFun, there’s certainly no shortage of dedication to the craft.

From simplistic ideas to elaborately themed concepts complete with make-up and costumes, the ASMR community uniquely entertains and soothes simultaneously. If you’ve never experienced an ASMR video, I highly recommend any of these.

Who knows what’s next…VR ASMR, anyone?

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