Like pineapple on pizza, ASMR is something that people have very polarized opinions about. ASMR has become more and more popular over the years (Youtube being the primary source for content although there are many who now use TikTok to make videos) as a method for people to relax or even fall asleep. And yet many people, who associate ASMR with breathy whispers or chewing noises, assume that it is something they could never enjoy.
But ASMR is so much more than intense sounds that might cause anxiety or disgust in some viewers. ASMR content is all about relaxation and finding the specific types of ASMR that work best for you.
What is ASMR?
ASMR (Auto Sensory Meridian Response) is the feeling of “tingles” (think a shiver down your spine) that you get when watching and listening to specific visual and auditory stimuli. Although a large portion of ASMR creators focus on triggers that elicit these tingles, there are many creators who instead just try to create relaxing videos, often with the intent to help their viewers fall asleep.
If you ever venture onto a popular ASMR creator’s Youtube comment section you will inevitably find an incredibly supportive community. There are always encouraging reminders to set your alarms, brush your teeth, and wash your face (on the assumption that you might fall asleep watching the video), lots of supportive comments for the creator, suggestions for future videos, and, perhaps most importantly, timestamps for each trigger used.
Why you should give ASMR a chance
The general misconception about ASMR is that if the cliché triggers do not work for you, that ASMR does not work for you. These trigger timestamps are proof of just how wrong that assumption is.
Most ASMR creators try a plethora of triggers throughout their videos and other viewers create these timestamp comments knowing that each viewer will have their own personal preference.
For example, while I love any sort of haircut ASMR (whether it be on an actual person, a wig in front of the creator, or the creator is simply acting as if they are sitting in front of you, the viewer), the sound of spraying (be it water, hair spray, etc.) often feels too loud and jarring to me. So when I click on a haircut video I always take the time to find the inevitable timestamp comment and look to see if that is a trigger included in the video. If it is, I make sure to skip that section.
And ASMR creators also understand that everyone reacts differently to different triggers, which is why there are so many different categories of ASMR. Creators know that people feel polarized about whispers so they make videos with “no talking” included as part of the title, so anyone who wants to avoid whispering as a trigger can do so. And there are also videos dedicated to a singular trigger (like typing on a keyboard or flipping through a magazine, two of my personal favorites) as well as more commonly used “roleplay” videos that allow creators to use many different triggers within a certain theme (like a friend doing your makeup, a visit to a spa, etc.).
Maybe you are someone who really dislikes the idea of someone whispering into your ear, and yes, certainly, any sort of whispering ASMR would not relax you. But maybe, instead, a soft-spoken makeup ASMR (of talking, not whispering) might end up relaxing you. Maybe you could put on an hour-long ASMR video of someone typing on a keyboard with no talking as calming background noise while you work. Or maybe someone eating close to a microphone is what sends tingles down your spine.
There are innumerable types of ASMR content in every possible language, filmed in many different styles. Some people use ASMR to sleep, some people with anxiety use it to cope, some people with migraines use it as temporary pain relief, and I have even seen comments from veterans who use it to deal with PTSD. Although the general perception of ASMR creates polarizing viewpoints, ASMR content is so diverse that almost anyone could find a type of content that they enjoyed, if they gave it a chance.
Rather than claiming disliking ASMR is like disliking pineapple on pizza, claiming you dislike ASMR is like claiming you dislike pizza. And there are far too many types of pizza for you to make that claim without at least trying a few types first.
Stephanie is a writer who received her Bachelor's Degree in English at Vassar College (2020). In her time not working on her WIP novel, she is busy reading, studying Korean and Japanese, or learning new K-Pop choreographies.