Recently, I came across a trending ASMR video on YouTube. I've had a loose understanding of the ASMR world for about a year, but never really watched any of the videos popularizing it. If you don't know what ASMR is, it stands for autonomous sensory meridian response. ASMR is the term for the feeling you get when you have radiating body tingles due to certain stimulants. If you have ever gotten a back-scratching or had someone run their fingers through your hair, you've more than likely experienced ASMR.
The video I saw in the trending section was by an account named ASMR Darling. Upon first glance, I found the video to be uncomfortable, suspenseful, and vaguely sexual. The video starts with an attractive and welcoming young white girl whispering, "hey, it's me". She then proceeds to start tapping on a desk, popping bubble-wrap, and touching the camera while telling me to think it's my face. I clicked out of the video after a few minutes because I felt like it was potentially porn.
If you are wondering what tapping and fake face-touching has to do with ASMR, don't worry, I'll tell you. On the main page of the ASMR Darling account is a video explaining what ASMR is. She explains the general definition and tells the listener that her tapping, rubbing, and clicking are "triggers" (stimuli that bring about the tingly ASMR feeling). She then explicitly states that you need to have an open mind to make her videos work, and that nothing she is doing is sexaul in any fashion.
On occasion, I like to self-experiment. I once tried making myself believe in the flat-earth theory. I've also locked myself in my apartment, listening to nothing but Shakespeare on audiobook, to see how long it took until it sounded like normal english.
Last week, I decided to spend a full day doing nothing but listening to ASMR Darling videos to see if I could get tingles. I made sure to watch at least 7 hours of her "trigger" videos and then devoted another 2 hours to her "roleplay" and vlog-style videos. The triggers ranged from slime to make-up brushes to fluting.
Long story short, I never actually did get really tingly, but I did fall asleep. It was relaxing, but I didn't get any of the "brain orgasms" I heard so much about.
Even more, I've come to feel eerily intrigued by Taylor Darling (the whispering 20 year old). Taylor seems like a precocious enterpriser, and oddly enough shows a lot of range in her videos. She has different personas in certain videos, like the teen bitch at your local Starbucks, or "Game of Thrones" characters. In other videos she talks about her life and struggles with sleep paralysis (which I also have). I feel like this girl, who already has over a million subscribers, is going to do a lot in life. She seems driven.
The videos still weird me out though. Although Taylor says otherwise, there is an uncomfortable layer of sexuality to the ASMR world. I don't find anything sexual about ASMR videos, but I feel like some people do, and just knowing that makes me feel like i've done something creepy.
That's what made my little experiment so fun. ASMR videos are hard to put your finger on. They are kind of weird, sometimes funny, and teetering on fetish-material. I don't think I'll watch another ASMR video again, but the experience is something everyone should try once.