ASMR has become a schoolwide sensation


Mia Swanson

Although it's certainly not for everybody, ASMR can be very beneficial for some. Many people find certain ASMR helps them to sleep, or even just relax. The right ASMR can conjure a feeling of euphoria in people and help reduce stress. "It makes me feel really relaxed, and it's just really fun for me" says senior Nara Goldwater.

Elliott Askari-Rabe, Staff Writer

If you type ASMR into the search box on YouTube, you’ll get about a billion results. Hours long recordings of the sound of rainfall. Videos of people whispering into a microphone. Shots of acrylic nails being tapped on hardwood tables.

That’s just the tiniest fraction of ASMR content. This relatively new phenomenon is already extremely popular all over the world, with some youtube videos garnering billions of views. And some may remember the Michelob Beer commercial during the most recent super bowl, which featured Zoë Kravitz whispering into a mic and tapping her nails on a bottle. If ASMR has not quite entered mainstream culture, it certainly started wading into it.

But…..what is it?

ASMR stands for autonomous sensory meridian response, which refers to reactions you have to different audio or visual stimuli. For instance, if a person starts feeling very relaxed at, say, the sound of pages in a book turning, they are experiencing ASMR. Although the term technically refers to the physical response to the stimuli, most people use “ASMR” to also describe the stimuli, known as triggers.

Although ASMR has been experienced by people for as long as humans have been around, the phenomenon only got a name in the 2000’s, and is still pretty under-researched. Descriptions of what we now know as ASMR have been found in many writings, and might even have been that old black magic Ella Fitzgerald sang about.

But what is all the fuss about? Why are there so many videos on youtube devoted to ASMR? Is there a benefit to viewing it?

Well, that depends. ASMR can be thought of kinda like a medication; it’s not for you unless you need it. Many find most ASMR hopelessly uncomfortable and unnerving, such as senior Astrid Berger. “For not liking ASMR, I do watch an incredible amount of it. It comes up on my feed on instagram.”

There are quite a few popular ASMR instagram accounts.

“I don’t personally like it very much” Berger continued. “I think it’s a weird generational thing that we’re gonna let go of in a little bit, and then our kids are going to look back on us and say ‘what were you doing?’”.  

Although it’s certainly not for everybody, ASMR can be very beneficial for some. Many people find certain ASMR helps them to sleep, or even just relax. The right ASMR can conjure a feeling of euphoria in people and help reduce stress.

“I know that some people really like watching it. And I’ve heard it comforts some people, so I think maybe we’re just a really stressed out generation.. We need crunchy sounds to get us through the day” Berger added.

Nara Coldwater is among those to whom ASMR is beneficial. “I watch it a lot” she begins. “It makes me feel really relaxed, and it’s just really fun for me. It’s just like watching any kind of trash on youtube.”

Most people have certain categories of ASMR that they prefer. For Coldwater, that includes videos of people squishing slime, crushing candles, chewing on different foods, and biting ice. “My most recent thing is just watching washing machines, and there are just these eight hour long videos of people washing clothes.”

Not everyone who likes ASMR likes the same stuff, and sometimes there’s just certain things you don’t go for. “I really don’t like the nail tapping stuff” said Coldwater. “I also don’t like when people touch the microphone. That just hurts my ears.”

She adds that even though some ASMR can be really satisfying, different categories can also be just as uncomfortable for her as it is for many others.

If you’re interested in ASMR, know what your preferences are. Otherwise, you’ll have to experiment to find out what works for you.

Although definitely unpleasant for most people, ASMR can be very beneficial for the right crowd. Certain people will find that ASMR allows them to utilize their natural triggers so they can feel more relaxed and calm. And although many will only find it weird, we should give credit where credit is due. Weather or not it is a mere passing fad, or a breakthrough relaxation treatment is up for debate, but for now there is a group of people for which ASMR does some serious good. For the rest of us…well… it’s like nails scraping chalkboard.