Autonomic sensory meridian response videos help students relax

Luke Hutchinson | Online Editor

Listen carefully.

ASMR is the experience of a tingling sensation on the skin that usually begins on the scalp and moves down the rear of the neck and upper spine; the feeling is often triggered by specific sounds or visual cues.

Junior Jordan Yakubowski said she discovered ASMR through slime videos, and believes the phenomenon became popular alongside the recent slime fad.

“Last year my friend would bring slime to school, and on Instagram there were these recommended slime videos from ASMR accounts,” Yakubowski said. “I started watching them and immediately felt very calm. The videos I watched did not include talking, but just different types of slime, like crunchy and clicky slime.”

Inspired by the variations of slime and the sounds they evoked, Yakubowski said she started making slime, and a few videos as well.

“I started making my own slime out of a borax solution with glue and shaving cream,” Yakubowski said. “You can make all different types, you can put beads in it, and it’s very fun. I have multiple jars of slime in my house, and I sometimes make ASMR videos with them on my spam (Instagram) account.”

The ASMR community extends far beyond slime videos, with YouTube accounts like “GentleWhispering” racking up over one million subscribers. Senior Josephine Sim said she uses different ASMR videos that utilize three-dimensional sound as background noise when she studies.

“ASMR was suggested to me on YouTube because I previously listened to low fidelity hip hop when I studied; I guess ASMR fell under the same relaxing category,” Sim said. “I watch videos with ear tappings, which is where there are ear molds, and sometimes the person will fill it with something like kinetic sand and then clean it out. I also watch interactive sorts of videos, so if it’s a movie scene, these show what the surrounding areas would actually sound like in first person.”

Neither Yakubowski or Sim watch videos with people directly whispering to the viewer, but Sim said these types of videos are where the purpose of ASMR is often misconstrued by critics.

“Some people think it’s a fetish when they see people whispering in your ear, and they don’t understand how there could be a ‘tingling’ feeling,” Sim said. “I personally do not feel tingly, I just think it is nice to feel like you’re somewhere else, and I mostly use it as white noise while I study.”

Sophomore Lindy Tran also uses ASMR videos as white noise while studying or sleeping, because she said the sound of silence would otherwise keep her from focusing.

“I mainly watch soap carving videos and bag openings,” Tran said. “The sound of the knife hitting the soap is calming because I do not like the sound of silence, so when I study or fall asleep I need to hear something rather than hear silence and start thinking a lot. It’s an odd concept with a bad reputation, but it helps people.”

For freshman Elizabeth Mitan, who was diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) at three-years-old, ASMR is more than a study agent. She said her sensitivity to sound makes her experience the widely-known tingly sensation.

“SPD is when the brain can not respond to outside stimuli normally,” Mitan said. “There are multiple types of SPD, but the most common are over-responsive and under-responsive. I am over-responsive, which means my senses are more heightened than the average person. I am most sensitive to taste, touch and sound. Because I am so sensitive to noise, especially loud or unexpected noise, I enjoy ASMR.”

Mitan said her excessive reliance on ASMR to relax has made the satisfying sensations more of a rarity, which is an understood concept among frequent listeners.

“Because I listen to so much ASMR, I experience what is known in the ASMR community as tingle immunity,”  Mitan said. “Tingle immunity is the idea that you no longer feel the tingling sensation because you are overexposed to ASMR triggers. It can last a couple days or a couple months — everyone is different. I still feel the physical sensation ASMR brings, but it is rare, and when I do, I replay the video a ton. The sensation is this prickly feeling on the back of my head that sometimes spreads to the top of my neck.”

Mitan ended up creating an ASMR-oriented Instagram account, but said she deleted it because she feared someone from school would find it.

“I deleted my ASMR account due to hate,” Mitan said. “The hate did not bother me, but the more people who found my videos, the more I got worried someone from school would find the account. ASMR is often mocked in school, however, I have met a handful of people who really enjoy it too.”

Senior Alisha Butler has a sister at University of Cincinnati who manages a YouTube account named “TheWhisperWizz”. The account currently has over 8,300 followers, and while Butler does not personally experience ASMR, she said she does not judge people who do.

“My sister decided to start her YouTube channel because she watched ASMR so much and was very interested in how it helped her sleep,” Butler said. “I personally do not feel the tingles from it; I think it depends on the person. It is a little weird, but I can’t judge, because I believe it can genuinely help people relax.”