ASMR videos -- videos that trigger the tingle-inducing sensation of ASMR (autonomous sensory meridian response) -- have gone from a relatively unknown, small corner of YouTube to appearing in Super Bowl commercials and interviews with major celebrities. Naturally, this sort of rise in popularity makes it feel trendy, very within the bizarre 2019 zeitgeist where teens are making TikToks about their mom taking away their Juuls. But the reality is that the ASMR sensation -- the relaxation, the “tingles,” the sleepiness -- is something that has been around long before the internet and YouTube.
Not everyone experiences ASMR, and even those who do experience it differently and as a result of different triggers. But many people of all ages can remember times in their life where they had their back tickled, or hair brushed, or sat on the ground as a child while a sweet-voiced librarian softly read a story out loud and experienced what is now called ASMR. It’s only in the past seven or so years that it has been identified, popularized, and commodified.
ASMR is no longer only a sensation felt only in the wild, unpredictably triggered by random surveys, doctor appointments, or haircuts. Now you can get your kicks by watching ASMR videos online, which cover a wide variety of different content: relaxing role plays of haircuts or doctor visits, whispered speech, kinetic sand, tapping sounds, eating sounds -- there’s something for everyone. But who are the ASMRtists (yes, that’s what they’re called) you should know about, and how did this all start?