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.
A: I’ve been watching ASMR for about eight years. I was a horrible sleeper and could never go to bed, so I was just always watching YouTube on my phone. I stumbled on one of the videos, and I literally never stopped watching. When I was a film major, I was always into YouTube; I loved the internet culture; I loved everything about ASMR. I was so familiar with the community and who was in it and the little nuances. I was like, “If I’m going to start a YouTube channel, I think I would do ASMR.” I didn’t think anyone would like what I had to offer, but I knew I wanted to take it seriously.
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!
Why does this exist? Because some people experience ASMR, aka autonomous sensory meridian response, a condition that means certain sounds cause you to experience a pleasant, tingly feeling on your scalp, or around the top of your spine. Sounds weird, has in fact been around for a while – by late 2016, approximately 5.2 million ASMR videos had been uploaded to YouTube.
I don’t know if I have the asmr described here, but I find myself getting something like ‘warm chills’ along my back and head. They often happen when I relax myself or feel apprehensive. Examples are; during wreck it Ralph when Ralph was falling towards the mentos on coke bottle mountain. I was getting Butt tons of these. Or maybe when I am sort of tense and its a cold day, I move around a little and feel some tingles. I get these tingles whenever I expect something sort of intense to happen; explosions, a crushing impact, the defeat of a character I love. But only when I expect it, never during.
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.
In 2016 I became a qualified Sound Therapy practitioner through The Collage of Sound Healing in England. Then later a practitioner in Crystal and Himalayan Bowl treatments as well as Assemblage Point adjustment and Reiki. I wanted to understand better the effects of sound on the body and how I was possibly helping my viewers. These courses gave me a much deeper understanding of what I do on YouTube and the experience to go on and take ASMR back into the world where it started for me. I strongly believe the social aspect of nurturing one another should not be lost especially as we grow older. The internet should be a means for further connection, not stop us from experiencing it fully in person. It should be a tool and not a substitute.
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.