From the tongue-clicks of Janelle Monae’s ‘Make Me To Feel’ to the crunchy bite of an apple that punctuates Superorganism’s ‘Something For Your M.I.N.D’ (surely the quintessential ASMR song?), via actual Macca munching carrots on The Beach Boys’ ‘Vegetables’ and the general click-fest that is the Soulwax remix of Metronomy’s ‘Love Letters’, step this way to ASMR nirvana.
Jacob Daniel is clearly a savvy child – although excitable and eccentric, he talks soberly about safety on YouTube, clapping his hands as he tells children to “be, be safe”. He tells kids to use fake names, access their email with VPNs, and avoid making custom Skype calls with viewers. For all his intelligence, however, Daniel is still a child. He and Prunkl show off a series of wigs they play with at home – he dons a purple one with red horns; Prunkl shows me her doll. They talk excitedly about the pranks they play on the public, wearing the wigs to order food in take-away shops.
The ASMR community has grown online by the hundreds of thousands over the years so far worldwide and shows no sign of slowing down. As the culture of self awareness, mindfulness and complimentary therapies grow, ASMR is becoming very useful for so many. ASMR content on YouTube is becoming a genre all of its own and strong bonds are being formed between people all over the world. Watch this space for there will undoubtably be much more to come!
If you’re not one of Payton’s 443,000 subscribers, then you’re probably currently asking yourself something along the lines of, “Why the heck do people want to watch someone eat a pickle?” The answer, quite simply, is ASMR: or autonomous sensory meridian response. This term is used to describe the sensation, normally a tingling, that people get in response to an auditory or visual cue (like someone eating a pickle). It’s been described as a type of auditory-tactile synesthesia, and it can be triggered by everything from whispering to the crinkling of wrapping paper. The term was coined in 2010 by Jennifer Allen, the founder of the first Facebook group for people who experience the phenomenon, and it has been referred to as ASMR ever since.
There are hundreds, if not thousands more of these videos out there. In researching this, what emerged what the picture of an addict who will stop at nothing crunchy, slurpy, or sticky to get his or her nervous fix. At the same time, the videos are oddly soothing—especially as all of these people throw propriety out the door and eat not only with their mouths open, but with microphones practically inside their mouths. To hell with convention, they seem to say. I'm going to whisper at you like a cartoon villain as I rhythmically inhale a plate of spaghetti up-close, gonzo-porn style. It's refreshing, if thoroughly and unambiguously disgusting.
In the first peer-reviewed article on ASMR, published in Perspectives in Biology in summer 2013, Nitin Ahuja, who was at the time of publication a medical resident at the University of Virginia, invited conjecture on whether the receipt of simulated medical attention might have some tangible therapeutic value for the recipient, comparing the purported positive outcome of clinical role play ASMR videos with the themes of the novel Love in the Ruins by author and physician Walker Percy, published in 1971.