Tapping and tingling: ASMR evokes sensory responses


Senior Max Moen reacts to an ASMR video

The term ASMR was coined back in 2010, but it wasn’t until the past couple of years that ASMR videos and the community that watches them have exploded in popularity. It’s not uncommon to find ASMR channels that have hundreds of thousands of subscribers, or videos with millions of views. ASMR stands for Audio Sensory Meridian Response, and generally refers to a wide variety of noises that are supposed to have a calming effect on people. Videos that feature tapping, whispering, and crackling noises are some of the most common stimuli. But, the ASMR label has been ascribed to videos that don’t necessarily have an audio sensory response, but still evoke feelings of satisfaction, like slime or tire crushing videos. The first scientific study of ASMR, done by Swansea University in 2015, found that ASMR videos had the potential to help treat people with depression and anxiety, much like meditation. Students at St. Paul Academy, however, mainly watch ASMR videos for entertainment, not for relaxation or to treat insomnia.

Freshman Nafisa Aden started watching ASMR videos within the past few years.

“Everyone was talking about them last year, but in kind of a joking way cause everyone thought they were weird, so that’s when I first started watching them,” Aden said.

Freshman Spencer Burris-Brown first heard about ASMR videos from a Dr. Mike video.

“He was talking about his thoughts on ASMR, in conjunction with talking about marijuana, so I thought ASMR was some, like, drug,” Burris-Brown said.

Senior Jenny Sogin has been watching satisfying and ASMR videos for a while, and has a wide variety of videos that she watches.

“I was really into Dr. Pimple Popper, but I’ve recently gotten into more normal stuff like the soap cutting, the slime, and the tire crushing. They’re just really fun,” Sogin said.

Senior Max Moen prefers watching videos that feature inanimate objects rather than the traditional whispering or tapping videos done by humans.

“I’m a big fan of the soap cutting, but I don’t know how I feel about the eating stuff, and the whispering stuff I don’t like. I like the inanimate objects, like the soap, and that’s it. They’re mesmerizing, but there are other times where I’m like oh that’s nasty like when there’s slime and there are little balls in it,” Moen said.

Sogin agrees that the some of the traditional ASMR videos are not for her.

“No eating, no whispering, no tapping. That’s just dumb, I don’t want to hear people eat,” Sogin said.

Aden does watch some of the more traditional ASMR videos featuring humans.

“There is this one red headed YouTuber that shows up on my recommended list, and she just talks into the mic and makes those crackling noises. It feels so weird, but it’s cool at the same time. I mostly just watch the videos with celebrities doing it, not for the actual ASMR part,” Aden said.

Burris-Brown does not feel relaxed like many who watch ASMR videos.

“I’ve tried to watch a couple to go to sleep, but it doesn’t really do much for me. I think it’s mildly satisfying but I don’t get the tingles you’re supposed to get,” Burris-Brown said.

Sogin, on the other hand, does watch the videos to help her relax.

“They’re a great way to waste time, I normally watch them before I go to bed, it makes me feel at ease, and it makes me feel tired,” Sogin said.

ASMR videos continue to gain thousands of views, and have even prompted another trend of “satisfying videos” that feature “satisfying” sounds, visuals, and situations. For anyone interested in exploring more of the ASMR world, simply type ASMR into the YouTube search bar, or find the “Satisfying videos” post on the Snapchat explore page.