A Bit More about ASMR
Before we dive into all the various subtypes and explore them, I want to clarify what ASMR is and explain a few misconceptions about it.
What is ASMR?
ASMR (pronounced ayy-ess-emm-arr) is the abbreviation for Autonomic Sensory Meridian Response, also known as "brain tingles." These tingles occur whenever a sense (usually vision, hearing, or touch) is activated by an innocuous environmental stimulus. ASMR may not be experienced by all humans (as far as I know, the causes of the sensations are unknown), but each person who experiences this phenomenon will have their own individual set of "triggers" for it. The sensation can feel like actual physical tingles coursing through your nerves, or it can feel more like intensely focused meditation, but in either case you will feel very relaxed afterward.
How Can ASMR Be Experienced through the Internet?
Most online ASMR content stimulates sight, hearing, or both senses at once, so it translates easily across the Internet as a medium.
Why Cut Up Soap, Rip Sponges, Etc.?
Simple answer: because of the pleasing sounds and visuals these practices create. That is the point of all ASMR videos--to create a relaxing sensory experience for those watching and listening.
Why Do People Like This?
I cannot speak for anyone else, but for me, I enjoy ASMR because it gives me something innocuous to focus on, a temporary escape from anger, anxiety, loneliness, or physical pain. When I'm stressed or angry, I am drawn to more aggressive videos featuring crushing, crunching, breaking, or ripping. When I'm in pain, the percussive sounds of tapping help ground me. Soft scratching, smooth peeling, and tracing help when I'm anxious. And, when depression or loneliness strikes, personal attention, friendly roleplays, and whispering can alleviate it for a time.
I think the happiness/tingles may also come from seeing actions performed deliberately and with skill--it's the very definition of performance art, creating something beautiful and pleasing, except that these content creators do it with a simple soap bar or a pile of baking soda. Many ASMR content creators call themselves ASMRtists (asmr artists) for short, and I think that is incredibly fitting.
Is ASMR a Sexual Fetish?
Not at all. This is a common and somewhat understandable misconception, given the fact that ASMR is described as a phenomenon about "sensations" and "tingles." Not to mention that some of the videos about it are labeled as "roleplay" videos. But it is primarily an innocent, even child-friendly interest. There are a rare few content creators who claim to post ASMR content targeted more toward adult themes, but I find that those posts miss the point of ASMR completely. ASMR, in my view, bears more similarities to the "oddly satisfying" movement (in fact, I would say ASMR and "oddly satisfying" are actually one and the same). It also works well for those on the autistic spectrum as well, no matter their age, because it can be a source of self-soothing to calm down emotions or anxiety, also known as stimming.
Isn't This Wasteful?
Not generally speaking. These cut/ripped/shaved materials can be reused, like so:
- Soap: melted and remolded into new bars, crushed into DIY laundry detergent
- Sponges: cushioning, stuffing, or packing materials
- Dry floral foam: floral arrangements, padding at bottom of plant pots
- Clay/chalk: dampened and remolded for originally intended use
- Plaster: can be made into gypsum again using water and heat
- Wax: melted and remolded
- Powder makeup: pressed back into original pan using rubbing alcohol
True, wet floral foam, thoroughly popped bubble wrap, poured-out cleaning products, etc., can't be reused very well, but in general ASMR practices do not waste money or resources--at least, not any more than any other pastime.
How Can I Best Enjoy the Featured ASMR on This Site?
All you need is a pair of good earbuds or headphones, and set your volume to about halfway (adjust it up or down as needed for various videos). Then just browse through these video pages, find one you're interested in, and click to enjoy!