ASMR: Tingly or Creepy?

Media by Brett Salyards

Come on in for your next ear cleaning appointment. Take a seat and relax as we search thoroughly through each ear, brushing and gently scraping away at any unwanted debris. Enjoy the light sounds shifting between both ears and maybe even close your eyes as you embrace the tingles.

Media by Gibi ASMR

A trending topic throughout YouTube is ASMR. As described in the possibly uncomfortable introduction, ASMR uses audio and visuals to create a relaxing and soothing place for those who enjoy it. ASMR, which stands for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response, causes the viewer or listener to feel sensations, which are referred to as tingles. These tingles can be felt in different ways from person to person, including on the head, neck, shoulders, and/or upper spine. People will feel such tingles differently based on certain types of sounds/visuals, or triggers.

If you type in “ASMR” on YouTube, you will most likely find a wide range of videos, each dealing with its own set of triggers. Some videos may contain triggers such as tapping, scratching, or brushing, with many also containing soft whispering throughout, whether audible or not. Others may include role play from the host, with examples being giving a haircut, doing your makeup, giving eye exams, or, as previously mentioned, cleaning your ears. Most of these creators use either two microphones (one at each side) or one microphone in the middle. While recommended with headphones, the first option allows the audio to be separated into each ear individually based on what side the sound is coming from. For example, if the host were to tap on something next to the left microphone you would hear the audio mostly through your left headphone.

Gal Gadot explores ASMR with W Magazine. Media by W Magazine.

Why is ASMR a trend today? With clicks on “odd” videos from new viewers and recreations by well-known public figures, the trend began to grow at the end of 2017. Through the past two years, we have seen multiple recreations from YouTube creators like Rhett & Link (Good Mythical Morning), who took ASMR to an extremely uncomfortable level as they whispered and cleaned the viewer’s ears. With this trend, there have also been multiple videos released from W magazine on YouTube featuring celebrities exploring ASMR while being interviewed. Some celebrities include Cardi B, Gal Gadot, and Aubrey Plaza. Whether serious or joking around, you can hear about ASMR amongst many in today’s society.

So why is ASMR enjoyed by some people? To some people, ASMR can be seen almost as a form of meditation. In research studies, ASMR is seen to improve overall health and lower a person’s heart rate. Some may find relaxation and positivity from each ASMR “session” that comes along with the tingles. Others may watch ASMR simply to become drowsy and fall asleep.

Why is ASMR cringe-worthy to some people? When clicking on an ASMR video, some people may be completely weirded out by what they are watching. It can be awkward and disturbing as the host whispers up close and personal to you through a video on your phone. Others just might not feel the so-called “tingles” and might see the video as useless and cringey.

So, is ASMR just another odd trend or is it something more meaningful? Well, that is all up to you.


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