The website for ASMRtist United looks remarkably like it was created by a child – which it was. Founded in August 2017 by 14-year-old Jacob Daniel, the “company” offers advice to ASMRtists under the age of 18. There is a guide on how to filter sexual comments, advice on coping with cyberbullying and a post entitled “How do I stop my school from finding my channel?”.
You’re at a Super Bowl party, heading to refill your plate with nachos, when you’re stopped by the sounds of Zoe Kravitz softly whispering into microphones and gently tapping her nails against a bottle of Michelob Ultra. You’re captivated, oddly relaxed and even feeling a little tingly. You, my friend, have just experienced ASMR — or autonomous sensory meridian response.
If the amazing feeling from having someone (or in a lesser way myself) tickle me lightly on my arm or the back of my neck, sort of drag their fingers or fingernails lightly across my arm/neck is ASMR, then yes. I also sometimes shiver and get goosebumps if someone’s brushing/playing with my hair… I don’t know if it’s ASMR though. It seems like just being ticklish, though it’s the most amazing feeling.
The bizarreness of this footage means ASMR isn’t without controversies. In June 2018, the Chinese government banned ASMR videos, branding them “vulgar” and “pornographic”. In August, PayPal began blocking the accounts of ASMRtists who received money to make custom videos (although the company later denied it has a policy against ASMR content). For those who don’t experience ASMR, the videos can seem fetishistic. Beyond the weirdness of whispering and making “mouth sounds” as in Kelly’s honeycomb video, some people nickname ASMR a “brain orgasm”.
I get this response, but I don't always like the feeling. If someone pulls down a projector screen, like those found in classrooms, i get a tingling sensation all over my body but I don't associate it with a pleasurable feeling. It's almost like nails on a chalkboard. I feel the same way about listening to a violin. The whispering though is a pleasurable ASMR response for me.
Let me start from my personal experience. As a schoolboy, I had a particular French teacher whose voice would put me into a trance. As soon as she started talking, it felt like my brain would start tingling. Her measured cadence and accent felt almost like some sort of mind massage. It was incredibly relaxing – and felt amazing, almost like an audio version of one of these:
But Roleplay itself is not that big a trigger, it is mainly just the tapping that would trigger it, haircuts maybe but the type I like are rare on youtube. Roleplay asmr just helps fill the social or behavioral voids in my life. I have a very idealistic sense of romance so a lot of the RP’s help with that. I have a weird obsession in researching sadomasochism and the masochism aspect is easily found in asmr that is similar to a Yandere or Vampire RP. The sadism I get filled from games even though no one expects that from a guy who apologizes as he passes by someone and without inconveniencing them. And in many cases people are just sort of getting sick of this commercialized “physical world” so I am not that alone in seeking fantasy settings. Out of the 10 most popular movies of 2016 in america 9 of them were fantasy.
And while the sensory things CAN aid in the effect, and the videos can work, unlike the other times, it is only if I allow it to because I can recall the sensation and somehow tap into it based on associated memories. The whispers to me are part of this because for me it meant someone cared enough to share something special with me. Same with the hair sensations. I felt special/loved when people did my hair. Therefore getting my hair cut or washed by a hairdresser will not usually cause it on its own other than the fact that I have had decades to tap into similar memories and call it up.
I only found out that my physical sensations were a ‘thing’ that not everybody experiences yesterday, after listening to a radio program about it. Like you, Mary, I have a whole range of experiences from momentary euphoric head ‘lifts’ to all-over tingling and prickling (not always very pleasant). These sensations have also been associated with a whole range of experiences, including sexual ones. Music is a massive trigger of my sensations, as is spiritual experience or prayer. As for religious music – Orthodox chant will definitely get me there, and singing with my shape note group is indescribably intense. So thank you for your brilliantly described experiences which have helped me to see my spectrum of sensations as part of a whole…something.
There's even a fine line between what will relax someone and help them fall asleep and what actually brings on the tingles. "White noise and nature sounds are very helpful for relaxation and sleep induction because they mask background sounds. ASMR-inducing sounds—gentle voices, soft crinkling, light tapping—can also do this, but they're even more relaxing," says Richard.
The contemporary history of ASMR began on 19 October 2007 on a discussion forum for health-related subjects at a website called Steady Health. A 21-year-old registered user with the handle "okaywhatever" submitted a post describing having experienced a specific sensation since childhood, comparable to that stimulated by tracing fingers along the skin, yet often triggered by seemingly random and unrelated non-haptic events, such as "watching a puppet show" or "being read a story".