Ahuja alleges that through the character of Tom More, as depicted in Love in the Ruins, Percy 'displays an intuitive understanding of the diagnostic act as a form of therapy unto itself'. Ahuja asks whether similarly, the receipt of simulated personal clinical attention by an actor in an ASMR video might afford the listener and viewer some relief.
Generally speaking, ASMR content creators are essentially self taught YouTubers who have experienced this feeling all of their lives just like the viewers. Those that have been creating content for many years have literally been developing these techniques since they started. Working with the early childhood memories of triggers, adapting these for a video setting, trying out new ideas, developing those seen done by fellow content creators, viewer suggestions and feedback. Personally it’s been an interesting journey with trials, errors and successes to develop the skills I have now and there is still a way to go with more ideas to explore. Not just in video format but live and in person sessions.
On June 3 2018, Makenna Kelly, a 13-year old from Fort Collins, Colorado, uploaded the video that propelled her to internet stardom. Entitled “Eating Raw Honeycomb – EXTREMELY Sticky Mouth Sounds”, it featured the teen chewing fistfuls of pure honeycomb directly in front of a microphone for 16 minutes. In the following months, it was viewed 12 million times. By October, Kelly had reached one million YouTube subscribers.
“I just tried it because I thought it would help out my channel and it did, yeah,” Kelly says of her honeycomb video. When she started her channel in March 2018, Kelly made more traditional YouTube videos – filming herself applying make-up and eating different foreign snacks. “It was exciting,” she says of going viral, “because I was like, this could actually be my dream, I’ve always wanted a lot of subscribers.”
These reports have precipitated comparison between ASMR and synesthesia – a condition characterised by the excitation of one sensory modality by stimuli that normally exclusively stimulates another, as when the hearing of a specific sound induces the visualization of a distinct color, a type of synesthesia called chromesthesia. Thereby, people with other types of synesthesia report for example 'seeing sounds' in the case of auditory-visual synesthesia, or 'tasting words' in the case of lexical-gustatory synesthesia.
Over the past few years, videos like this have exploded in popularity on the platform. Millions are tuning in to watch strangers whisper into their microphones, tap their fingernails, fold napkins, or roleplay as a comforting nurse—all to help viewers experience a tingling, relaxing feeling known as autonomous sensory meridian response, or ASMR. It may seem bizarre and uncomfortably intimate and maybe even a little creepy the first time you watch an ASMR video, but the creators behind these videos have a truly benevolent intent: to help their views relax, fall asleep, and find relief from the stress of their everyday lives.
It's also not something that affects everyone. Apparently only part of the population "gets" ASMR, just like not everyone "gets" magic-eye pictures or Beyoncé. It could even be a genetic thing for some, like the people who were born with the crossed wires that make them think cilantro tastes like Comet. The actual science on ASMR is scant, and some neurologists aren't sure that it even exists. Those who do think that the tingling feelings produced by ASMR might be tiny seizures. But for those who do experience ASMR, there's a wealth of material out there to give you a brain boner.
There are some ASMR triggers which you will find reoccur regularly in ASMR videos. Everyone’s personal triggers will vary slightly, what works for other people won’t necessarily work for you. Running through the list of triggers below might help you find new ASMR triggers that you didn’t know about, or hadn’t thought of before. Or if you are not sure whether you experience ASMR yourself, have a look at the list and you should be able to tell by the end. Remember, these are just the most common, and won’t necessarily work for everyone, so don’t worry if they don’t all give you tingles.
Some of the biggest ASMR artists on YouTube—like Gentle Whispering ASMR and Gibi ASMR—have racked up millions of subscribers, with millions of views for some of their videos. These creators are triggering the ASMR experience in countless ways. Sometimes, it's as simple as tapping their fingernails next to their microphone or whispering gently to their camera. Other times, they're roleplaying everyday situations and making them feel far more intimate; for example, a stylist taking your measurements for clothes or a doctor giving you a check-up.
Austrian writer Clemens J. Setz suggests that a passage from the novel Mrs. Dalloway authored by Virginia Woolf and published in 1925, describes something distinctly comparable. In the passage from Mrs. Dalloway cited by Setz, a nursemaid speaks to the man who is her patient 'deeply, softly, like a mellow organ, but with a roughness in her voice like a grasshopper's, which rasped his spine deliciously and sent running up into his brain waves of sound'.