Maria has become one of the most recognizable faces of ASMR. One of her videos was the first in the community to hit a million YouTube views, and she produces a huge amount of fantastic content. In this video you don't see her face at all, but you get to enjoy her voice, her slight accent, and her gentle hand movements. Plus, you'll learn how to fold the HECK out of some towels.
Stronger than audio for stimulating ASMR, though, is touch, Richard said, which is why he envisions touch-mediated virtual ASMR. Picture an ASMR video. But before you watch it, you put on a special shirt and hat. As the video plays, the person on the screen simulates touching you. And you experience it because that shirt and hat are rigged to transmit the touch.
While scientific evidence is pretty scarce, the number of devotees is overwhelming: ASMR online groups and forums are flooded with stories of people suffering from unbearable and incurable anxiety or insomnia until they came across Bob Ross' soothing voice on late-night TV or heard pages gently turning in a library. (Related: Incredibly Odd Insomnia Cures People Actually Try)
The first time I remember ASMR I was in pre-school and a girl who was normally not nice to me was kind to me. I think she tied my shoes for me. To this day, this is the strongest trigger. My Twitter name (I am the mom over our geeky pack) is a clue to why this did not happen all the time. I was not popular though well liked in my group of uncool kids. So when the popular kids or someone I held in high regard (teacher, etc) gave me attention that was above and beyond, my whole head would tingle.
I’ve always had this triggered by intense personal attention on either me or something I’ve done. In particular, having someone stare intently at something I’ve written or drawn on paper (or imagining/remembering that type of incident) triggers it very consistently. Intensely focused photography of myself or a body part (not sexual) also is very effective. I was recently watching a sporting event and noticing the camera tracking the athletes – just imagining how the athlete would feel with this non-stop camera attention was also a trigger. Dentists don’t really do it for me, but regular checkups with any sort of focused attention on any body part works. There’s something about the very concept of another person finding either me or my ideas/thoughts interesting enough to examine at length. A glance is just not enough. It’s kinda funny but this has triggered like a dozen times just while writing this comment out and thinking about these things!
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?”.
At the other end of the spectrum, I had a memory of a sexual experience that was such a strong trigger that for almost 15 years after the event, just thinking about that experience could trigger an actual orgasm with full body ASMR. (sorry if that’s TMI) (And don’t anyone be too jealous, I’m now old, gray, fat and long past those days in my life, but I’ve got the memories. LOL)
According to YouTube estimates, there are more than 45 million ASMR videos uploaded to the site, and, over the past year, there has been a marked increase in children making ASMR-related videos. Richard hypothesises that our brain is probably more receptive to an unknown child than a strange adult, making it easier for some individuals to be relaxed by ASMR videos featuring children.
Like many corners of the internet, there’s also a sense of comradery in being outside the norm. According to the Instagram user who runs an chalk-eating ASMR repost account, this has helped build trust in the community. “We all know we are a little left of average in what we find stimulates our ASMR experience, so there’s solidarity and kinship as well," the user said.
“People asked for really weird things,” she explains, “like tapping on a TV or playing with string.” For instance, one stranger paid Kelly $50 (about £38) to film herself eating cookies and milk. In an 11-minute video, Kelly tapped on the biscuits with her vibrant pink fingernails before biting into them and slurping them down with a jar of milk. More than 300,000 people watched that video.
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!
Nothing can currently be definitively known about any evolutionary origins for ASMR since the perceptual phenomenon itself has yet to be clearly identified as having biological correlations. Even so, a significant majority of descriptions of ASMR by those who experience it compare the sensation to that precipitated by receipt of tender physical touch, providing examples such as having their hair cut or combed. This has led to the conjecture that ASMR might be related to the act of grooming.