I found this weird thing on the internet, and you know you’re in for a good time when a blog post starts off like that. So buckle up.
The weird thing in question is called ASMR. Please take a few minutes out of your day to imagine a few disturbing phrases that ASMR could be an acronym of. Done? You sickening pervert. So let’s clean our hands and move right along.
What ASMR actually stands for, we’ll get to later. But what ASMR means in practice is soft-spoken ladies on the internet whispering into a microphone and making all sorts of soft and cosy sounds, using their hands and lips and a variety of objects. Pops and scrapes and crinkles and lip-smacks and hair ruffles are the order of the day here.
Before we get any further, here’s an example:
That’s a head massage.There’s a huge number of other options out there, including lots of odd role-play stuff like going to the doctor or hairdresser or dentist (which we all find relaxing, right?) or watching someone wrap presents. Literally thousands of videos. Shockingly many.
At this point I’d normally have a good old giggle and point at the sad internet freaks who are into this kind of thing. But here is the problem – it totally works on me.
The soft popping and scraping and whispering sends my head into fireworks of tingles. It’s like when I get a haircut (an activity I enjoy way more than I let on to my hairdresser). I can’t really explain why it works, but it does. It sets my brain alight, leaving a calm and slightly numb feeling in my head, lasting for many minutes. Like mindfulness but without any of the boring effort.
Here’s another one. This is Maria, possibly the most popular ASMR video maker. Her top posting has over 17 million hits. This lady does this full time, and makes enough that she doesn’t have to work with anything else. This, people, is her actual job.
And there’s lots more out there. Search and you will be amazed. Or very, very troubled.
The big question is – is it sexual? Maybe, but only in the same way that getting a massage is sexual. The ASMR fan base seems to be equally male and female, and while there are plenty ASMR videos made by men, the majority are done by women. So is it some kind of weird maternal thing? Might be. But whatever, it works for me.
It’s not all whispering and head touching. Here’s Charlotte wrapping presents. She has a lot of videos that are mostly noises. Page turning. Writing. That class of thing.
But enough from me. Get out there and explore. Put a good pair of headphones on. And be prepared for some very odd looks from those in your immediate vicinity.
ASMR = Autonomous sensory meridian response. Or possibly Anal Sector Marzipan Roulette. Does it matter? Not a whole lot.
Extra material: The brilliant Jenny Nicholson does her own take on ASMR.