Ever since I was 4 years old I have truly loved the sound of typing on a computer. As a child I loved to go to the library just to listen to grown ups clack on the keys. The sound would tickle my brain– that’s the only way I could describe it.
Thanks to YouTube, I discovered that there was a name and reason for my strange affliction with keyboards. Autonomous sensory meridian response, or ASMR, is the occurrence of a tingling sensation traveling from the scalp down the spine as a result of a triggering sound or touch. In simple terms, ASMR feels like someone is massaging your brain and pouring cool liquid down your spine. It has been described by researchers as a “brain orgasm,” although that term is disputed for accuracy by many. It can result from a variety of triggers. Common ones include nails tapping on wooden surfaces, keyboard typing, whispering, and page turning. When I was 12 I looked up “people typing” on YouTube. The results would genuinely change my life.
Within seconds I was exposed to the entire online ASMR community. Turns out millions of people feel this same phenomenon and several YouTubers have channels dedicated to making videos that will trigger it. I bookmarked more than I could watch in a week and started getting lost in the sounds.
Years later ASMR was still relatively unknown despite its massive presence on YouTube. The New York Times wrote an article about this in 2014 (link: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/07/28/rustle-tingle-relax-the-compelling-world-of-a-s-m-r/?_r=0), but still most people were unaware of ASMR. The community continued to grow and gain more producers and consumers of these videos.
In 2016 ASMR was brought to the mainstream via a YouTube video of a different genre. Comedy Shorts Gamer, a YouTuber who talks about video games and internet memes and happenings, made a reaction video after discovering ASMR videos (link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BFFCacFYERE). Following this video, mainstream media began looking at ASMR as the “weird corner of the internet.” Those who are not in the ASMR community are often disgusted by it because they don’t understand the effects it can have. The research on ASMR is continuing, and hopefully soon scientists can explain why the sound of whispering can be so magical.
While the ASMR community continues to grow on YouTube, the rest of the world becomes more aware of it. In the near future I expect this to become a business. Currently, a handful of ASMR YouTubers actually make money from the website for producing videos.I expect money to infiltrate the ASMR world as it grows on the internet. In the meantime I will continue to listen to my favorite ASMRtist, Gentle Whispering (link: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC6gLlIAnzg7eJ8VuXDCZ_vg), whisper in Russian while typing on a laptop.