Reasons behind the Internet’s obsession with ASMR videos

My cousin is obsessed with ASMR videos. She watches with fascination clips of people eating fast foods! I roll my eyes and ask, ‘Why? Why don’t you watch cartoons instead?’ I get this odd satisfying feeling, she says. She laughs when she makes me watch. I, on the other hand, shiver with disgust when I hear a guy munching and also feel queasy when the video closes on his lips. It made me think, why do netizens love watching ASMR videos?

For the uninitiated, ASMR or Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response is ‘an experience characterised by a tingling sensation on the skin that typically begins on the scalp and moves down the back of the neck and upper spine’. To explain in more simpler words (with example), you get this feeling when someone scratches on a chalk board. You shudder, cringe-inward and feel like running away.

Odd videos
There are thousands of ASMR videos flooding the Internet that satisfies millions. If you search on YouTube, you are in for a big surprise. It ranges from videos that claim to make you fall asleep, to cringe worthy clips of people licking, slurping and munching burgers, pizzas, noodles (I am shuddering as I type).

Then, there are ASMR videos with tags such as ‘oddly-satisfying’. Here, you hear thick gooey liquid poured in a container to soap bars grated with knives. The options are just endless and it is hilarious to see how some top You Tubers get millions of hit just be recording themselves eat! There are even ASMR videos of people speaking softly in a subtle whisper! When I watch them, I feel as if tickled on my neck.

The science
Several research papers have been written by psychologists and hearing experts on ASMR. Experts claim that the videos trigger the auditory sensors in our brains. Some medical journals in fact term the feeling we get while watching ASMR clips as ‘Brain Orgasm’! In a research conducted by American psychologists Nick Davis and Emma Barratt ‘discovered that whispering was an effective trigger for 75 per cent of the 475 subjects who took part in an experiment to investigate ASMR’.

The research paper published on the website of US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health reports: ‘participants largely sought out ASMR as an opportunity for relaxation, with 98 per cent of individuals agreeing, or agreeing strongly with this statement. In a similar vein, 82 per cent agreed that they used ASMR to help them sleep, and 70 per cent used ASMR to deal with stress.’ This explains the thirst for ASMR videos by netizens.

Show me the money
I was stunned to see dozens of ASMR channels on YouTube where people upload videos of themselves snoring while sleeping, cutting vegetables, whispering, talking, eating! YouTuber Taylor Darling on her channel, ‘ASMR Darling’ makes ASMR videos like ’30 Triggers To Help You Sleep’, ‘Relaxing Haircut’, ‘Brushing You To Sleep’ and many more. She has a whooping 2.3 million subscribers and a total views of 459 million! Wired UK reported that she earns somewhere around $1000 per day from advertising revenue on her channel. Who would have thought recording yourself eat can make you mint money? I guess all one need is a smart phone with Internet connection and a crazy idea to make money these days.

Mohammed Rayaan