By Lyndsie Kiebert
I remember the day I watched my first ASMR video.
I stumbled across the concept in a podcast. The hosts described a YouTube genre made entirely for the purpose of inducing “tingles” — the relaxing sensation on the back of one’s head and neck when they hear a sound or observe slow, meticulous actions. That tingly feeling is called an autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR) — a pleasing, low-grade paresthesia with no clear cause.
The host of the podcast urged listeners to watch an ASMR video to familiarize themselves with the topic. I obliged, and haven’t looked (or listened) back since.
There are millions of ASMR videos on YouTube and, as with anything, viewers tend to find their niche. ASMR is typically quiet, slow and methodical, aiming to relax the viewer with pleasing sounds (tapping and scratching on various surfaces, gentle whispering) and movements (hand fluttering, wood carving, playing with slime, food preparation).
Some consider mouth noises especially pleasing, causing me to come across a video of someone eating Taco Bell with a high-definition microphone clipped to their shirt. It certainly wasn’t my cup of tea, but as ASMR has taught me, judging someone for the ASMR they choose to watch is silly. By many people’s standards, those of us who unwind by clicking on a video titled “ASMR **trigger** sounds for deep sleep ~ ZzZzZzzzzz ~” are all weird.
For this reason, I was hesitant to come out as a dedicated ASMR enthusiast. However, the time has come that I share my greatest joy, and that is curling up on the couch with my dog, sipping a hot beverage and watching itsblitzzz ASMR massage videos.
Julia — a Los Angeles YouTuber known by her handle, itsblitzzz — started dabbling in ASMR only a couple of years ago. Her most popular videos have amassed more than 10 million views. The premise of an itsblitzzz video is simple: a model sits in a chair and Julia — typically wearing a turtleneck — stands behind, her head cut out of the frame, as she administers a head/shoulder/face massage using essential oils. She whispers positive affirmations while the model melts in her tattooed, manicured hands. At the end, she offers them a drink and a snack.
A microphone picks up each sound, from Julia’s breathing to her nails on the model’s scalp. These videos are typically about half an hour long, which is simply not long enough.
While many of the more popular ASMRtists use mannequins for these kinds of massage videos, Julia uses friends and subscribers. In addition, while ASMR massage videos can occasionally slip into sexually-charged territory, Julia’s never do. She is professional, kind and big-sisterly.
This all sounds admittedly strange. There are a lot of ways to unwind, like, I don’t know, normal television? Scrolling through social media? The difference is that ASMR does not require an energy exchange. I don’t have to feel anything about a plot twist or a baby photo while watching someone have their hair brushed. I simply have to sit back and be mildly hypnotized.
To those who judge: the eight-figure view counts on many of these videos speak for themselves. ASMR works for a lot of people — especially those of us who crave a way to slow down our minds. These YouTube channels are free, accessible and certainly worth a try. Happy tingling.
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