ASMR stands for, Autonomous sensory meridian response and describes the „tingling sensation on the skin that typically begins on the scalp and moves down the back of the neck and upper spine.“ Most commonly ASMR gets triggered by specific sounds and visual stimuli.
For everybody who grew up before YouTube a potential first encounter with the qualities of ASMR was probably Bob Ross. Millions of viewers fell asleep to his gentle voice and his casual brush strokes.
On YouTube, around the phenomena of ASMR an online community has formed in which thousands of strangers around the world, form an auto-therapeutic network aiming to induce relaxation, relieve anxiety or cure insomnia in form of YouTube videos.
Again also ASMR-videos range over every imaginable setting and blend in with lots of other genre on YouTube. VR-ASMR, Unboxing-ASMR, Unintentional-ASMR, ASMR-cooking, Shopping-Howl-ASMR and of course endless amounts of ASMR-role-plays ranging from praying in the forest with a monk, to meeting the candy queen, talking to a caveman or being welcomed by your girl/boyfriend after a long day of work.
In all these different videos the performance is the crucial element and usually simulates an intimate setting which involves the care and attention of the performer for the viewer. The quality of an ASMR video stands and falls with the way the ASMR-artist speaks and acts. (+the quality of the sound and video recording). In many videos the performer speaks with a lowered voice or whispers. Close distance to the camera is common and many performances involve touching the screen or camera to simulate a POV experience for the viewer.
Although there is a fair amount of ASMR videos featuring fantastic, sci-fi or spiritual settings there seems to be a tendency towards mundane moments. ASMR-videos simulating the „Caring-girlfriend, -friend or ,-stranger“ are some of the most popular ones. Besides this big desire for interpersonal interactions which seems to get soothed with these sound-settings, the mundane as the usually unnoticed gets shifted back into the focus of attention.
Daily life in form of the objects, sounds and situations which surround us get amplified into a wellness experience, let it be the buzzing of a fan, the tapping and touching sounds resonating from our technical devices or the damped noise of a highway in the distance. But in reverse ASMR can also (re)sensibilize us for our surrounding. A common report from people watching ASMR videos is that they start noticing or searching for ASMR triggers IRL and therefore listen more closely to what kind of sound and noise they are surrounded by. John would be proud of us.