"If ASMR has a godfather, it is television painter Bob Ross."
January 27, 2015 7:30 PM   Subscribe

 
Previously on MetaFilter. I also liked the This American Life episode which is where I first learned its name.
posted by Miko at 7:37 PM on January 27, 2015 [3 favorites]


I have the exact opposite of this, if the opposite of a pleasant tingling sensation is an immediate desire to physically remove myself from the source of the sound.

I'm into Bob Ross, he's relaxing, sure. But soft, arrhythmic clacking sounds or, god forbid, mouth noises? I'd like to be excuse from the table, thank you.
posted by wakannai at 7:43 PM on January 27, 2015 [16 favorites]


I get 0 asmr response but I fucking love these videos. I put them on when I'm having trouble falling asleep. They just shut my brain right off and I can relax and sleep.

So because of this I've poked around some of the channels. I think my favorite one I've come across is this guy, who is just so comically awful. He does a lot of role plays and is bizarrely antagonistic and dismissive sometimes. I mean, here he is having a pretend conversation with you, he gets to write the script 100%, and he gets into arguments with you. Also he is really bad at science, like so bad omg. Here is an example, even just the first 30 seconds are so laughably uncomfortable.

For one who is actually good, I like her and folks who do Japanese candy.

In conclusion, youtube is a hell of a drug.
posted by phunniemee at 7:54 PM on January 27, 2015 [13 favorites]


Stories about this have captured my attention because I absolutely have this response. From the first time I read about it, I knew exactly what it was talking about. At the same time, I think that (a) the obsessive compulsion to seek out this sensation is something different in kind from being able to perceive the sensation (and I have little interest in seeking out this sensation, especially if I have to watch people on YouTube to get it) and (b) I have no wish to encourage the pseudoscientific garbage a lot of the adherents get into. I'm also quite a bit creeped out by the overlap of "personal care" as a theme for ASMR videos. I think that is something psychologically distinct from the physical "explosive pleasant shudder" reaction.

Science/psychology writer Maria Konnikova was on Slate's Is That Bullshit? segment talking about this. Her general take? Influenced by lots of bullshit. It's not "only auditory," she notes. "There's something else going on here," she and the host agree.
posted by Miko at 7:55 PM on January 27, 2015 [2 favorites]


Does this involve happy little trees?
posted by eriko at 7:57 PM on January 27, 2015 [3 favorites]


Oh man, yeah, I was thrilled to discover that this thing had a name, and that people were reproducing it on YouTube. I used to come back from church every Sunday afternoon as a kid and bliss out to Bob Ross. When I was in grad school I would scour the internet for Bob Ross videos just to have some way of relaxing. Considering how aggressive the estate of Bob Ross is on deleting his videos, it's been wonderful to discover other people out there trying to replicate that sensation.
posted by UltraMorgnus at 7:58 PM on January 27, 2015


Who came up with the weird name for it?
posted by edheil at 8:00 PM on January 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


Jenn Allen
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 8:08 PM on January 27, 2015


It does nothing for me, so it just makes me think of the fad of iDose or whatever binaural internet drugs were called back in the day.

Listen to this tone for half an hour for weed, -this- tone for PCP.
posted by angerbot at 8:14 PM on January 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


wakannai, sounds like misophonia.
posted by unliteral at 8:14 PM on January 27, 2015 [5 favorites]


I love this stuff. I have absolutely no idea if any of the pleasant warm sensations I get from these videos are ASMR or just part of falling asleep while someone talks to me, but these do at least as well at making me drop off as my old Psychology lecturer, and I don't have to pass an exam on them afterwards.
posted by these are science wands at 8:18 PM on January 27, 2015 [2 favorites]


A big chunk of this is just trance states, I think.

Listening to these seems to be akin to a meditative practice. So, I guess do whatever works for you? But it's nothing new.
posted by empath at 8:20 PM on January 27, 2015


The orgasm-like bit (that's not really orgasm-like) isn't trancey - it's quick and doesn't seem to change the brain state. But I guess watching a 10 minute video of someone whispering at you could create a trancey feeling. The physical phenomenon that initially spurred the discussion has become buried under the glommed-together cruft of social behavior that these videos are all about.
posted by Miko at 8:25 PM on January 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


What. In. The. Everliving. Fuck?
Omg, that dental hygienist pretending to work in a candy shop...I think I'm having an acid flashback.
posted by sexyrobot at 8:35 PM on January 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


and folks who do Japanese candy.

I actually tensed up big time watching these videos because I kept expecting things to be thrown across the room and eggs smashed everywhere
posted by Quilford at 8:36 PM on January 27, 2015 [6 favorites]


I've experienced these brief pleasant head-to-body tingles at random times since I was a child and I was so excited when I heard somebody put a name to it. It's not just a general good feeling or frisson, it's a distinct physical sensation. It starts at the back of my head and sometimes travels all the way down to my legs. The sensation itself lasts anywhere between 5-30 seconds, maybe, and it can happen several times in a row.

The first time I remember experiencing it was watching an episode of Mr. Wizard where they rolled up a piece of paper and put a rubber band around it. In regular life, I mostly experience it during doctor appointments, job interviews, haircuts, or when someone is teaching me something one on one. Receiving any kind of personal care, like getting my hair shampooed or getting a pedicure, is a never-fail ASMR trigger for me.

ASMR videos don't always work for me, and the response itself seems to come and go sometimes, but the videos are always relaxing and help me get to sleep.
posted by dialetheia at 8:44 PM on January 27, 2015 [16 favorites]


I find the whispering videos extremely unpleasant. Kinda the opposite if the described effect. And the mouth sounds video was a no go.

But I've always loved Bob Ross.
posted by zennie at 8:44 PM on January 27, 2015 [2 favorites]


It was impossible to tell what the hell they were talking about In the few minutes I could read that page before it locked up my browser by loading a gazillion full width YouTube clips. I had to look it up on Wikipedia.

This is ridiculous. Almost everyone knows about this sensation. I can probably give you a very intense, not particularly pleasurable experience of it right now, just with a few words of text:

Fingernails scraping on a blackboard.
posted by charlie don't surf at 8:45 PM on January 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


The One Lilium
zzzzzzzz :)
posted by rahnefan at 8:49 PM on January 27, 2015


Alan Watts is my Bob Ross.
posted by unmake at 8:57 PM on January 27, 2015 [2 favorites]


This is ridiculous. Almost everyone knows about this sensation. I can probably give you a very intense, not particularly pleasurable experience of it right now, just with a few words of text:

Fingernails scraping on a blackboard
.

I hear fingernails scraping on a blackboard when people discount experiences that others find enjoyable or interesting.
posted by item at 9:02 PM on January 27, 2015 [35 favorites]


I'm so jealous of people who get ASMR from videos.

When I am a bazillionaire, I will have an entire staff of murmurers to walk around right behind me, mumbling in my ear and playing with my hair.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:02 PM on January 27, 2015 [3 favorites]


i was more mesmerized by Bob Ross creating 2 amazing clouds out of nothing with simple white paint (from the main article)
posted by bitteroldman at 9:05 PM on January 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


The Most Disturbing ASMR Video, via CollegeHumor. Warning: lots of whispering and blood.
posted by nicebookrack at 9:05 PM on January 27, 2015 [14 favorites]


haircuts

THANK you, dialetheia. Since this popped up on the blue, I knew I'd had this reaction but it wasn't the whispering or Bob Ross or unwrapping crinkly paper. It's the sound of hairdresser's scissors (they have this cutting action that is like hydraulic or something) trimming a section of hair. I can feel it all the way to my toes.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 9:15 PM on January 27, 2015 [2 favorites]


In it's purest form
posted by PenDevil at 9:22 PM on January 27, 2015


When I am a bazillionaire, I will have an entire staff of murmurers to walk around right behind me, mumbling in my ear and playing with my hair.

Did you mean remember thou art mortal
posted by figurant at 9:29 PM on January 27, 2015 [6 favorites]


I have always found Bob Ross soothing and wonderful, not because he gives me an ASMR response, but because I love watching people make stuff and I love art supplies. I think it is because there is somehing calming in the rituals of creation and watching someone do those things is a muted version of doing them myself.

When I am not on the bus I have to find the videos of the Pen Guy because although he does not give me an ASMR response either, he is such an awesome pen nerd it fills me with joy.

And avarice.

But mostly joy.

Pens.
posted by louche mustachio at 9:30 PM on January 27, 2015 [6 favorites]


I get fairly strong ASMR sensations and I really don't understand why it seems to piss certain people off. Is it frustration because it doesn't do anything for you? I can't see those magic eye pictures and I remember being slightly annoyed as a child because while others could see the dolphin or the boat or whatever all I saw was a bunch of squiggly colors, but it didn't piss me off. Then again, if those that could see the pictures were also reporting feeling pleasant sensations I might've been a bit more frustrated. Who doesn't want to feel nice otherworldly tingles?

A while back a friend of mine brought up the fact that the majority of those who feel ASMR are women and she proposed that the experience might be seen as a feminine one - her words, not mine. I did, however, find this interesting. Is there a secret jealously (or anger) in not being able to share in what could possibly be seen as a feminine experience?
posted by item at 9:36 PM on January 27, 2015 [7 favorites]


Is it frustration because it doesn't do anything for you?

Honestly I think it's just because some people are buttheads and buttheads gonna butt. Oh you enjoy a thing? Well let me tell you, that thing sucks. c.f. Literally every single thing that happens in the world.

Here is another channel that's great. I really like this one because the person does interesting things that also make neat nosies. Favorite one, two. And here's one with scissors for Twinbrook.
posted by phunniemee at 9:48 PM on January 27, 2015 [9 favorites]


Honestly I think it's just because some people are buttheads and buttheads gonna butt.

Yeah, you're absolutely right. I don't know why I was looking for a deeper meaning to it. Christ, am I losing my cynicism towards my fellow humans?
posted by item at 9:57 PM on January 27, 2015 [5 favorites]


You know what this is? A damn hoot! I'm chuckling like a doofus. Also, the College Humor video's really hilarious, nicebookrack. They play with the form perfectly.
posted by but no cigar at 10:01 PM on January 27, 2015


I wonder how it relates to pee shivers...

I definitely get it from nearly all of the described settings and triggers, basically every single one except perhaps Bob Ross...and have this video playing in the background setting me off in between "What is ASMR?" commentary without paying attention to it. Just the anticipation of it is sometimes enough.

I tend to have a tense upper back often so it kind of coalesces into this big ol' patch of tingling vibration on my neck and upper back after moving up and down a bit and is often "sub-pleasant." Those copper "head wand / head wizard" things are guaranteed every time, so long as someone else is doing it. If anyone touches the back of my neck, it's intense typically pleasurable electricity, which can be awkward when dude-bros do it just to be dude-bro-y, but any touching near the throat, front of my face neck area sets off a reflexive anti-choking response almost immediately. I'm sure it relates to ticklishness too, like barely touching much of the lower region of my stomach to waistline area will basically cause my whole body to cramp up with unpleasant electrical impulses.

Zzzzt
posted by aydeejones at 10:07 PM on January 27, 2015


Also, I drank orange juice the other day and it kept shocking my lip, when I had my hand grounded on another table surface. Once I turned on an old set-top basic cable box momentarily just by hovering my hand near it (about to turn it on) and suffering a massive static spark. WE ARE STORM(Z)
posted by aydeejones at 10:08 PM on January 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


I've always called ASMR "frissons" and I get them most predictably from live classical music, like choir (religious or otherwise) or symphony orchestras (never small groups) or, most recently, at the opera. Seattle Opera's Rigoletto last year gave me frissons (or, I guess, ASMR) in glorious waves, and the one I just saw, Tosca, wasn't nearly as frisson-triggering although I enjoyed the show very much. I grew up on Bob Ross and consider him a bit of a household patron saint, but the frissons I've felt while watching his show would come from my father banging away on the piano downstairs while I'd watch Bob Ross paint some happy trees, not the show itself. A PBS show that does trigger ASMR for me, though, was The Frugal Gourmet. I just looked up some clips and yep, still does it, though very unpredictably.

Mostly I don't go chasing them nowadays because I can't force frissons to happen. Almost none of the ASMR vidoes work for me; I don't think video is the medium for it. For me it has to be physical, and I think cooking shows might have enough sensory evocation to sneak in there. The two movies I know to trigger frissons for me are Eat Drink Man Woman and Howl's Moving Castle, especially the part where Sophie's hanging the laundry out to dry and the part where she's, you guessed it, cooking breakfast.

I'm pretty sure everybody in my family gets them because I've talked about frissons with them and nobody's been like "huh what?" about them, although I don't think they chase them like I've been known to enough to need to give them a name. Until ASMR came to my attention it had honestly not occurred to me that there are people who don't feel them. I latched onto the word "frisson" from goodness knows where, but if people think frissons are something else then what? Like, a fancy word for shiver? Because ASMR is definitely not a shiver. And it's not the tensing-up from head massages or anticipation of being tickled or the pleasant anticipation of kissing or canoodling, either, nor is it an orgasmic thing. For me a small one just glows in the nape of my neck and spreads to my shoulders, but the big wave-like ones from Rigoletto, for example, start at the nape of the neck, curl up around my skull, pour down my spine and around my sides near my kidneys, and reverberate around pushing down my shoulders and arms, and repeat for upwards of thirty seconds and then are more likely to recur if the trigger is ongoing after about another half minute.
posted by Mizu at 10:15 PM on January 27, 2015 [11 favorites]


Is this the same kind of tingling sensation you get when something really sad or touching happens on TV or in a film?
posted by Quilford at 10:24 PM on January 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


I get ASMR (or what I assume is ASMR; maybe it's something else) from eating strong horseradish, usually "wasabi". It's the damnedest thing. Probably explains my love of sushi though.

Also, listening to good, intricate music with headphones in the dark does it occasionally.

Am I confusing this with something else? It's like waves of intense tingling, mostly in my scalp.
posted by neckro23 at 10:30 PM on January 27, 2015


Mizu, the unintentional-ASMR subreddit specifies that you shouldn't post videos with music "to avoid asmr/frisson confusion", so they seem to have identified frisson and ASMR as two different things. Can someone who knows more about ASMR clarify the distinction? Is it a difference in sensation, or just a difference in triggers?
posted by fermion at 10:33 PM on January 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


It's definitely not videos of music, or recorded music in general, though, only live music. For me, anyway. I get them too from other experiences, but it's just the most easily repeatable one. Videos of the same kinds of experiences don't replicate the sensation for me, but sometimes reenacting them IRL will. Like, sometimes the smell and sound of a wood fire, or the upthread mention of getting a haircut with those scissors, or the act of cutting through many stalks of celery at once. All of these are things that sometimes give, to me, what I would call frissons, and things that I can repeat in real life, but videos of them do nothing for me.
posted by Mizu at 10:41 PM on January 27, 2015


This is a revelation about a sensory experience of which I was unaware or had forgotten. It goes a long way to explain some musical forms that I could never grok - artists like Hirsche Nicht Aufs Sofa, for example. I will be exploring whether this dissemination of ASMR experiences changes my mind.
posted by gorgor_balabala at 10:53 PM on January 27, 2015


Most of these ASMR videos have the complete opposite effect on me. They make me incredibly annoyed, irritable, angry, or just anxious, especially the ones with voices or like weird scratching sounds. I don't really understand how anyone could find that not annoying, let alone pleasurable. I could only make it through a couple of seconds of the videos in the article because they made me want to punch something and/or crawl out of my skin.

The only video that had positive effect for me was that head massage one. I also get an ASMR-type response from this video. I always did get a similar response from having my hair washed at a salon. The only other thing that seems to illicit it is certain musical pieces, although I also have had this experience seemingly without any trigger.

I have to admit that I am jealous of people who get pleasure from all these sounds, when a lot of times I've wished for a mute button that I could use to block out everyday noises.
posted by litera scripta manet at 11:05 PM on January 27, 2015 [3 favorites]


I get mild ASMR from these videos, and from that, and the descriptions people with stronger response give, it sounds really, really similar to the initial sensation of an MDMA trip. I don't know of any other drugs that do it, but MDMA trips start with a very distinctive tingling/tickling sensation of the scalp and especially the base of the neck. It's so distinctive that people taking it for the first time (and thus given to the "Yeah, I think I can feel something" reaction) are often told to wait for it, as a sure sign something's starting to happen.

Which makes me wonder what's going on with ASMR. MDMA mainly releases a crapload of serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine, which accounts for the intense pleasure experienced, but I'm not sure why these sounds would do that (and if they did, you'd have other, stronger effects as well, I think).
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 11:19 PM on January 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


I don't get them from the videos but I do get them from "cognitive stimuli" as the Wiki page states; two terms at the bottom make sense to me: 'frisson' and 'goose bumps'. I find it fascinating that some people get frissons from watching whispering people on YouTube!
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 11:22 PM on January 27, 2015


Binaural ear to ear sounds where things seems to go around your head (or pans in the stereo field) really does it for me, more than anything. And natural sounds (which I guess goes back to the Environment series of ambient sounds LPs back in the 70s, really). Stuff like this.
posted by geekhorde at 11:23 PM on January 27, 2015


Fucking hell Mashable stop autoplaying videos as I scroll past them maybe I want to view them ON MY OWN GODDAMN TIME THANKS.
posted by Spatch at 11:46 PM on January 27, 2015 [6 favorites]


For one who is actually good, I like her

OK I had no clear idea what this was about and was getting annoyed with a video of someone pretending to play with my hair, but then I heard her first whisper and it damn near killed me. So yeah I guess I've felt that before but not frequently enough to even realize it was a Thing.
posted by 1adam12 at 11:58 PM on January 27, 2015


Another tiresome four letter neologism backed by zero scientific evidence.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 12:14 AM on January 28, 2015 [3 favorites]


That binaural video that litera scripta manet posted above made my scalp itchy as hell! Please tell me I'm not alone. Imma gonna go scratch now.
posted by biddeford at 12:23 AM on January 28, 2015


I experience frisson and ASMR as distinctly different. For me, frisson is mostly triggered by music but sometimes also by general beauty - it happens a lot in churches and cathedrals and spaces of astonishing architecture. It feels like an emotional resonance made physical, coming from the inside out and the rush of it makes me shiver, and sometimes cry (in a happy catharsis!).

ASMR is, for me at least, much more to do with the sympathy of physical touch, almost like the anticipation of touch makes my skin super sensitive but then the actual (or imagined) sensation of touching or being touched is so light it doesn't discharge the static built up by the anticipation. So a feedback loop gets set up, that eventually breaks in waves along my spine up into my head. YouTube works just as well as real life visits to the optician, hairdresser etc.

I've experienced both all my life. It's pretty great.
posted by freya_lamb at 12:37 AM on January 28, 2015 [4 favorites]


It's kind of the opposite of the "fingernails on a chalkboard" feeling. For me the "nails" reaction is an immediate and involuntary twinge in response to certain frequencies, though, while "ASMR" is, contrary to what Miko says, sort of a state of mind thing. Maybe a better way to put it is that it *requires* a certain relaxed state of mind that I can keep going if not distracted or lose if I am. I didn't know it wasn't a universal experience until the internet gave it a stupid name. I know there are different "triggers" for people but - you know the feeling when you get a haircut or listen to that ancient binaural haircut recording? If the answer to this question is "yes" and you've listened to the haircut thing a dozen times that's what everybody is talking about.

Another tiresome four letter neologism backed by zero scientific evidence.

It's a silly pseudoscientific name but at its root this isn't, like, some binaural beats brainwave elevation thing (though it could be why some people think those work I guess) it's putting a word to a bodily feeling a lot of people have known their whole lives.
posted by atoxyl at 12:41 AM on January 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


Another tiresome four letter neologism backed by zero scientific evidence.

Please explain to me -- rationally, mind you, not with your original rather obvious emotional overtones -- how science somehow prohibits people from using and inventing language to discuss their shared subjective experience.

As a very very pro-science person, I'm quite curious to hear this. I'm also pretty confident it will amuse me.
posted by lastobelus at 12:56 AM on January 28, 2015 [16 favorites]


Part of the problem is the word meridian, which has ties to ancient Chinese snake oil. I've seen plenty of discussions in ASMR forums trying to rally the community around a new name, which just doesn't seem likely at this point unless someone can come up with something that actually means something.
posted by darksasami at 1:15 AM on January 28, 2015 [4 favorites]


I think the Slate people got this about half wrong. That it may not really be distinct from sensations associated with actual touch and intimate contact is a good point, as long as you understand that what we're talking about is that media that suggests touch can induce the same sensations. And it may not be exclusively an auditory phenomenon. But I can definitely get it from audio alone, and not just audio directly associated with tactile memories (like the virtual haircut thing) but audio where any connection to human contact is very abstract. I guess most egregious to me is when he says "I bet it doesn't work if they're whispering about sewage treatment" or whatever. Maybe not if the subject is distractingly disgusting but if you actually take a look at "ASMR" communities you'll see lots of people enjoy boring lecturers and chefs cutting sushi and all kinds of stuff.
posted by atoxyl at 1:15 AM on January 28, 2015


Has anyone ever used one of these head massagers before? A friend had one and the sensation is very ASMR-like, but even more intense. My spine shudders just thinking about it.
posted by timelord at 1:25 AM on January 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


I love these videos. It's all the pleasant sensation of someone talking softly to me while I fall asleep, without the weirdness of someone being in the room while I fall asleep. I first discovered it some time ago, when I was talking online with a friend on Skype and she was brushing her hair while we talked, and I got the most tingly sensation. I've always had it - when people are typing next to me in the office, or filing papers, or folding clothes. Sometimes, when I'm feeling really sensitive, I even get it when someone is just talking to me, and I have to zone back in to concentrate on what they're saying.

Anyway, it would have been creepy to ask my friend to brush her hair on Skype again for me, so on a whim I searched YouTube for videos of people brushing their hair, figuring it would be slightly less creepy. Ever since then, I've been down the ASMR rabbit hole. I'm incredibly sensitive and find most video and TV content a bit overwhelming - whether it's noise, flashing lights, or content. ASMR is just perfect for me, I can relax in front of it in the same way as a lot of people can relax in front of a favourite TV show. I know that sounds weird! Just having it on in the background helps me write, for instance.

Two of my favourites are Heather Feather and SoftAnnaPL for different reasons - the latter speaks mainly in Polish, and I find the unintelligible (to me) words so incredibly soothing and tingly. Foreign-language ASMR is some of my favourite because I get to concentrate on the sounds rather than the words. I'm not sure about the description of ASMR sensations as an orgasm - it doesn't feel anything like that to me, and I think it needlessly sexualises something that's totally non-sexual.
posted by winterhill at 1:25 AM on January 28, 2015 [3 favorites]


GallonOfAlan: "Another tiresome four letter neologism backed by zero scientific evidence."

People used to say this about synaethesia too.

Nice coincidence to see this post on the blue just a couple of days after I happened to discover the ASMR thing via mynoise.net (they added an ASMR whisper generator recently). I'm still not quite certain I have the response that others are having, but I did find a large proportion of the youtube videos a little creepy.

timelord: Ha, yeah those things are crazy intense. I received one as a gift recently, and strangely it only seems to work right when someone else uses it on my head.
posted by vanar sena at 1:39 AM on January 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


vanar sena: Yes! I forgot to mention that part. It's a lot like tickling. You can't really do it to yourself.
posted by timelord at 1:59 AM on January 28, 2015


Is it frustration because it doesn't do anything for you?

I can report that it is not this. Most reported ASMR inducing things put me very sharply and intensely on edge like nothing else.

It completely circumvents my concious mind, slithers it's way down into my brain and makes me want to bite someone, or run away and hide under a table.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 2:47 AM on January 28, 2015


(I am pleased that others find it nice though. It's nice when things are nice)
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 2:47 AM on January 28, 2015


The Most Disturbing ASMR Video, via CollegeHumor.

These guys don't know what they're talking about.
posted by Pyrogenesis at 3:16 AM on January 28, 2015 [6 favorites]


So, y'all know the same thing should happen with BBC and CBC productions from the 70s and early 80s?

According to description, middle era Dr. Who ought to get you off just the same.
posted by clvrmnky at 5:18 AM on January 28, 2015


Something akin to this happens to me if I am reading along in a book and suddenly something important to me is mentioned--say out of nowhere my hometown is name-checked. Head to toe chill-bumps. So odd.
posted by thebrokedown at 5:20 AM on January 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


I can't believe nobody has yet linked to the archive of 16 seasons of Bob Ross.
posted by specialagentwebb at 5:44 AM on January 28, 2015 [11 favorites]


I get strong asmr from tapping and scratching sounds, massage videos, people touching people's head, and Bob Ross. But I am violently repelled, to the point of nausea, by squishy mouth sounds. So asmr videos that aren't well tagged and described can be a very horrible experience.

I also find the role play concepts some "asmrtists" come up with are seriously weird. Just yesterday I came across one titled "nurturing werewolf role play".
posted by lollusc at 6:17 AM on January 28, 2015


After reading the article and most of the comments here I still can not tell if this is just one of those 'things' I've just never noticed or the BEST INTERNET HOAX evah???!!!???
posted by sammyo at 6:27 AM on January 28, 2015


Big Bob Ross fan here, although I don't seem to be an ASMR person.

I love listening to Bob Ross accompanied by a nice mix of instrumental post-rock/post-metal, like Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Explosions In The Sky, Pelican, Red Sparowes, stuff like that. His soothing demeanor meshes with the music in a really fascinating way.

Plus sometimes the timing works out just right, so you get:

music crescendo music crescendo music crescendo MUSIC CRESCENDO MUSIC CRESCENDO

*pause*

"Happy little tree."

CRASH CHUN CHUN CHUN SMASH CHUN CHUN CHUN *HOWLING GUITAR FEEDBACK*


Which is awesome.
posted by soundguy99 at 6:34 AM on January 28, 2015 [7 favorites]


Yes indeed, timelord, those things are amazing and this guy agrees: Previously
posted by clavicle at 6:36 AM on January 28, 2015


I'm now wondering whether the reaction to, say, especially the mouth sounds, which seem to be the key point of contradictory feelings here, might not actually be the same sort of reaction in both cases, only wired in an opposite manner somehow? ASMR is in a sad situation in which there is basically zero scientific insight into it, so currently all talk about the causes of it is just random baseless speculation. But there does seem to be a sort of convergence on certain sounds, but often with completely opposite feelings. So maybe the cause or root of the very emotional reaction is actually the same or similar in some sense? Is there a neurologist in house to tell me whether such a thing is even possible?
posted by Pyrogenesis at 6:43 AM on January 28, 2015


Every generation thinks they discovered getting the willies. Wait, no, just this one.
posted by General Tonic at 7:04 AM on January 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


This is ridiculous. Almost everyone knows about this sensation. I can probably give you a very intense, not particularly pleasurable experience of it right now, just with a few words of text: Fingernails scraping on a blackboard.

No, that's an entirely different sensation for me, with a different physical manifestation, and a really unpleasant one.

Every generation thinks they discovered getting the willies

This also feels distinct from what I know as "the willies," which is an ick/creepy/avoid response. Though contemplating some of these roleplaying people does give me the willies..

Until ASMR came to my attention it had honestly not occurred to me that there are people who don't feel them.

Same. I'm still not sure they don't - it might just be that, since we have (until now) devised no language for them, some people do not pick them out of their generalized physical experience in the same way.

Please explain to me -- rationally, mind you, not with your original rather obvious emotional overtones -- how science somehow prohibits people from using and inventing language to discuss their shared subjective experience.

People used to say this about synaethesia too.

It's not that they want to talk about it, it's the immediate leap to medicalizing/pathologizing it that concerns me, as though that really is the best or even only way to understanding a phenomenon that has likely been with humans since there were humans. The use of pseudoscientific language"to lend legitimacy is just painful to me. "Synaesthesia," to me, is a different construction that both builds on root words that make sense (meaning something like "sensing things together") and also describes something empirically and simply instead of attempting, wihtout knowledge to propose a hypothesis (we don't honestly know if this is 'autonomous,' nor do we know if it's a 'response' or just spontaneous phenomenon accompanied by psychological association), and 'meridian' is essentially meaningless. If it is studied further, one of the first things that will happen is that the researchers will give the phenomenon a different and less BSy name.

It's a lot like tickling. You can't really do it to yourself.

I can often generate a small one of these myself, by paying attention in certain ways (part of why I'm not sure how 'autonomous' it is).
posted by Miko at 7:14 AM on January 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


Ally, aka ASMRrequests, who is mentioned in the article, is my favorite, not least because the quality of her videos is astounding. I strongly encourage even those who don't get ASMR to check out Departure Episode 1, and Departure Episode 2. Episode 1 is presented as a sci-fi travel agent role play. Episode 2, while also a role play, is the beginning of an adventure tale. It's well written, and does some really cool things with effects and UI. And the "ad" before the episode is clever as well. Episode 3 is supposed to happen, but I worry that her new VR efforts have put it on the back burner.
posted by schoolgirl report at 7:16 AM on January 28, 2015 [3 favorites]


I don't get ASMR, but I've perused them before just to see what the deal was. Some of the scenarios are so involved, like this outer space travel agent
posted by Windigo at 7:19 AM on January 28, 2015


The only video that had positive effect for me was that head massage one. I also get an ASMR-type response from this video.

This was so weird. It made my scalp itch and there was a moment where I imagined that salon hair-dye smell.

It wasn't pleasant, it was just really strange as hell.
posted by Windigo at 7:21 AM on January 28, 2015


I find some whispering effective, most crinkle and tapping sounds effective, and mouth sounds not effective but not horribly repellent (probably unpleasant, not worse).
posted by jeather at 7:30 AM on January 28, 2015


I enjoy the sound of pages turning and whispering in a library, and I had an aged Shar Pei who would only eat if I put Bob Ross on before I put her bowl down, but man, do I hate this stupid wad of new-skool nonsense and the thingification of every damn item of character in the world.

I like other dudes, which used to make me a sodomite, then a pervert, then a uranian, then a homosexual, then gay, then queer, and now a bunch of fucking LGBTQQIA alphabet soup nonsense invented largely by people who get off on being offended at all times and by all things.

I had a lot of trouble in school, and I was difficult, then "special," then hyperactive, then dyslexic and dysgraphic, then "suffering" from ADD, then ADHD, then…whatever. I write a lot of to-do lists and my telephone reminds me when I have to do things, and I'm special because my grandmother told me so, not because the internet diagnostic police issued me a badge.

I meet people with the intent of being friends, and maybe dating, and they want to tell me that they're an INFP or some such nonsense and ask me what I am.

"I'm a person," I'd say, "and sort of a pain in the ass."

"No, I mean your Myers-Briggs."

I do know what that particular idiocy is, but rather than rant, I just shrug and say "What the hell is that?" I do not offer or consent to take the little quiz, either. If you want to know me, hang with me, and I'll know you the same way.

People assemble communities of common comfort to talk about how television logos scared them as children and I just have to wonder what the fuck is wrong with people. Sure, the CBS Special Presentation logo was exciting, because it meant the once-annual showing of The Cat In The Hat was about to come on. If something on TV scared me, like the intro to "Emergency!" used to, I'd turn off the TV, but I don't find I need a support group in my late forties because someone forgot to issue a trigger warning before mentioning Randolph Mantooth around me.

Maybe it's because "I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed, or numbered!" spoke to me in my increasingly overcategorized youth, but now everyone seems desperate to be personified as a shambling pile of syndromes, stacked high with acronyms and abbreviations and complicated strings of code for who they are, and that just seems sad and devoid of poetry. It's the molecular gastronomy school of the cultivation of the soul—showy and impressive and ultimately empty. Sure, you can make a flat chicken that is actually a glass of water, but to what end?

To each their own, I suppose.
posted by sonascope at 7:44 AM on January 28, 2015 [3 favorites]


I've always called ASMR "frissons"

That was always the best word I could come up with, too. All of my life, I have recognized that the most concentrated form of this sensation comes from gently riffling the pages at the corner of a book. But it has to be just the right kind of riffling. If the paper is too stiff, the individual pages snap by one at a time. If the paper is too soft, it is just the sensation of undifferentiated smoothness. Between those two, when the pages flip in little soft clumps, comes the frisson. A worn bible printed on thin paper would be a likely source. I've known which books will work for this since I was a baby, and found the sensation to be as comforting as was my security blanket.

I came to think of this sensation as one specific type of a frisson, one that I could never communicate or discuss meaningfully with anyone, because even if there was a word for it unless the other party had the same trigger how could we know we were talking about the same thing?

What became most intriguing to me upon continued observation and reflection, was that in some sense I can qualify just about everything in the world according to the degree that it has or hasn't got some tiny amount of this ineffable and unnameable attribute. Kind of mysterious and transcendental, I thought such a sensation might be involved with what some people think of as a spiritual property.

The minute I heard about this ASMR thing, I knew right away, ah, that's what it is. Something gained and something lost.
posted by StickyCarpet at 7:45 AM on January 28, 2015


PENS
posted by louche mustachio at 7:51 AM on January 28, 2015 [2 favorites]


They make me incredibly annoyed, irritable, angry, or just anxious, especially the ones with voices or like weird scratching sounds.

This is basically my experience of misophonia - I will eventually anxiety-cry if I can't get away from the sound, but it's just an instant twitchy miserably unhappy anger.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:02 AM on January 28, 2015


Haha, I love this mysterious little phenomenon. Especially the range of stimuli that cause it. I get it myself, though usually not from 'whispery' or soft voices. For me it's either spontaneous, or from lightly brushing the hair on the back of my neck in a particular way -- or from answering questions in particular settings such as surveys or medical situations.

sonascope : this stupid wad of new-skool nonsense

Man, that's just a crotchety-assed rant. When we discover new things we give them names and explore them and talk about them and such, it's not the end of the human soul for goodness' sake.
posted by Drexen at 8:25 AM on January 28, 2015 [8 favorites]


Man, that's just a crotchety-assed rant. When we discover new things we give them names and explore them and talk about them and such, it's not the end of the human soul for goodness' sake.

(A) It is totally crotchety-assed, but that's me. My crotchet is often assed.

(B) These are not discoveries of new things. They're giving silly faux-medical names to phenomena musicians and music appreciators knew about for thousands of years before the ASSSC (Alphabet Soup Special Snowflake Club) pounced on them and came up with another SDS (Sexy Defining Distinction) for the crowd who feel like they need to self-diagnose their every supposed oddity and then trumpet it to the world.

Sounds make you feel things, and sometimes they make you feel tingly, odd sensations. The Beatles taught me that in '76. Making this A New And Amazing Discovery™ is what seems silly. It's like discovering a whole continent already filled with people and culture and then naming it America and declaring it a New World. Hell, it's like finding a group of people who think they invented Björk ten years after the fact.
posted by sonascope at 8:56 AM on January 28, 2015 [2 favorites]


These videos always cause me to have an intense feeling of anxiety. It’s like waiting for the jump scare in a horror movie except worse because the jump never happens. I know it’s an irrational fear because the videos wouldn’t have thousands of views if they were some kind of trick but I absolutely cannot shake that feeling. I keep trying to get into it but it’s like “oh ok this girl is brushing her hair and whispering…this is nice, this is relaxing….everything is fine, everything is normal OH GOD CHERYL RUN TO YOUR CAR THE KILLER IS BEHIND THE COUCH WHAT ARE YOU DOING” and then I need to take a walk. Ugh.

Regardless, it’s interesting that people have such widely different reactions to these types of videos.
posted by Diskeater at 9:00 AM on January 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


The way ASMR makes people angry and dismissive and go all "your experience is wrong because science so it does not exist and besides everybody knew about it already" is making me all tingly at the back of my head.
posted by Pyrogenesis at 9:07 AM on January 28, 2015 [3 favorites]


In my earliest memory of the sensation, an architect friend was sketching out ways to arrange furniture in my new condo. He had a roll of tracing paper that he'd pull across the diagram lying on the table, talking and sketching and starting again. I experience floods of delicious tingles in my scalp, in my arms, in my legs. By the time we were done I was relaxed as a noodle.

The next time it happened was when I was buying wine glasses, and the clerk took great care to wrap each glass in tissue paper and then place it in the carry bag just so.

I've since learned that I have a pretty narrow trigger range: expert, focused personal attention. Just personal attention, like going to the salon, doesn't come close, plus for me it never involves being touched. Talking is okay, as long as the focus remains on the thing, which must belong to me or be about me. Weird, I know.

So the vast majority of videos don't work for me. Somebody scratching various objects near a microphone, roleplaying various personal service scenarious, these do nothing.

There's one video that works for me fairly reliably, though the ASMR response is weak, because I have to imagine that the thing belongs to me. But it does work. Japanese store clerk carefully but swiftly wrapping a purchase.
posted by Short Attention Sp at 9:21 AM on January 28, 2015 [2 favorites]


These are not discoveries of new things. They're giving silly faux-medical names to phenomena musicians and music appreciators knew about for thousands of years before the ASSSC (Alphabet Soup Special Snowflake Club) pounced on them and came up with another SDS (Sexy Defining Distinction) for the crowd who feel like they need to self-diagnose their every supposed oddity and then trumpet it to the world.

I never get an ASMR-like response from music, and honestly, the name -- which is silly, yes -- is useful for finding videos that scratch the itch. This isn't self-diagnosing and generally it's not trumpeting it to the world, it's just "hey, neat, this is not just me, and here's how I can find ways to get this nice sensation". If you hate the term or the videos or whatever it is you hate, that's fine, but why are you coming into this otherwise pleasant thread being shitty about it?
posted by jeather at 9:27 AM on January 28, 2015 [7 favorites]


If you hate the term or the videos or whatever it is you hate, that's fine, but why are you coming into this otherwise pleasant thread being shitty about it?

Because I get tingly from the concept of friction on the internet.
posted by sonascope at 9:29 AM on January 28, 2015


I'm not sure if it's the same sensation but nothing makes me feel super relaxed like things fitting in other things.
posted by Diskeater at 9:31 AM on January 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


Because I get tingly from the concept of friction on the internet.

This is not a discovery of a new thing. You're just describing a silly faux-medical feeling that orators and debaters knew about for thousands of years before the MFAMI (My Feelings Are More Important) pounced on them and came up with another BIAG (But I Argue Differently) for the crowd who feel like they need to self-diagnose their every supposed oddity and then trumpet it to the world.
posted by Pyrogenesis at 9:46 AM on January 28, 2015


There are literally thousands of other threads on metafilter that are not about asmr that y'all can read, you know.

Like, I am an atheist, but I have 0 to gain from going into threads on religion and being all "WHERS UR SKY FAIRY NOW neener neener all of you are needy losers who have to make up organizations to validate your delusions neener neener."

If it's not for you, then it's not for you. That's ok.

Stop harshing everybody's groove.
posted by phunniemee at 9:56 AM on January 28, 2015 [14 favorites]


I used to watch Bob Ross on Saturday afternoons on PBS and promptly take 30-60min naps while doing it. I did this so often and so regularly that just hearing his voice auto-play on that Mashable article started to make me feel instantly sleepy. I've always avoided ASMR videos as poppycock, but if there's any resemblance to whatever magic Bob Ross had, I will now seriously check out some ASMR videos.
posted by mathowie at 10:09 AM on January 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


So a few months ago while following links from someone's twitter or blog or pinterest or something I stumbled across YouTube videos on something some people have termed "ASMR". I like a whole lot of these videos. They help me sleep and I find them soothing and every now and again I get this feeling I've had since childhood which is a tingly back of the neck/over the spine sensation. It's new to me that there is a term (however flawed) and that it's a "thing" - which I'm glad of because at least I have a search term.

I consider myself very RealScienceYAY! but I'm also the kind of person who doesn't berate myself when I wake up in a cold sweat after a scary dream about car-sized spiders that don't actually exist. That's maybe not rational for me to be afraid after those dreams, but brains are funny.

Because brains are funny, I really don't care if ASMR is my imagination or Serious Science or what. It's nice when a whole lot of the world isn't. It is people making videos that are nice and kind and help a lot of people be happy. I have better things to do with my time than argue with these kind people who make these videos about their terminology. Other people like other things. And I don't come into threads about them and poop all over it but to each their own, I suppose. (I had expected better from members of this community, though).
posted by pointystick at 10:10 AM on January 28, 2015 [5 favorites]


I think Sonascope just took an odd route to share a Bjork video with us. Thank you for the video, Sonascope. Bjork is great.

Before I watched it, I spent 45 minutes on reddit/unexpectedASMR watching a Romanian man shine three pairs of shoes. It was fantastic.
posted by GrapeApiary at 10:25 AM on January 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


The idea that people should have to use an entire sentence of vague words to talk about something they want to talk about because some people are annoyed by the coining of words that didn't already exist when they were originally learning the language as a child has got to be one of the stupider bits of pseudo-intellectual bullshit I've encountered on metafilter.
posted by lastobelus at 10:39 AM on January 28, 2015 [6 favorites]


On another note, does anyone know how to turn off the damn ASMR? Mine's been going nonstop since I read this post yesterday and the only video I watched was the OP Bob Ross, and one other random 5 minute Bob Ross youtube. It was nice, but I've had enough for now.
posted by lastobelus at 10:49 AM on January 28, 2015


(B) These are not discoveries of new things. They're giving silly faux-medical names to phenomena musicians and music appreciators knew about for thousands of years before the ASSSC (Alphabet Soup Special Snowflake Club) pounced on them and came up with another SDS (Sexy Defining Distinction) for the crowd who feel like they need to self-diagnose their every supposed oddity and then trumpet it to the world.

Not true at all. I experience both, and ASMR is completely distinct from the frisson I get from music. Most ASMRers seem to agree that they experience both and that they're two completely different feelings and phenomena.

Thanks very much for the dismissive kneejerk, though!
posted by dialetheia at 10:55 AM on January 28, 2015 [4 favorites]


In terms of a direction for scientific investigation, ASMR is likely a form of the autonomous nervous system that draws our attention quickly to things in the environment when our brains unconsciously recognize their potential for being important has changed. The classic example is you're walking down a path and suddenly you get a chill down your spine because that stick you suddenly find yourself whipping your head to look at is a snake, or a very snake-like stick. This would explain why sounds that seem very close can be a trigger, why the idea that some random person is paying close personal attention TO YOU can be a trigger, and the similarity with the experience of recognizing the twist, or any sudden shift of meaning, when watching a movie or reading a book.

It probably is a universal thing, but people experience/interpret in a wide range of ways, just as is so of many other experiences that have a universal basis: sex, music, taste etc.

The idea that some people have that because THEY don't experience it in one particular way means that people who say they do must be bullshitting is absurd. Do you really believe that you are the prototypical individual for human subjective experience?
posted by lastobelus at 11:08 AM on January 28, 2015 [2 favorites]


A big chunk of this is just trance states, I think.

Listening to these seems to be akin to a meditative practice.


It's really not. I meditate regularly. I also get ASMR. The occasional post-meditation bliss/buzz cannot be confused for ASMR, which I was getting long before I knew it had a name. I think my earliest memory of it comes from a time when I watched my mother gently sponge off a table. I stopped talking about it in probably eighth grade, when I realized that nobody else got it and it made me look weird to discuss it.

It's very distinct from sleepiness, the frisson you get from music, etc. It can stop me in my tracks when I see someone carefully painting a sign on the street. It's delicious and while these youtube videos never trigger me, I'm glad that they're bringing some attention to the phenomenon. Gives me some back-up when I try to explain it to friends who might otherwise think I'm off my rocker.
posted by mylittlepoppet at 11:10 AM on January 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


The normal association of the "sudden attention" frisson is with a sympathetic nervous system response: look at that! get ready to act!.

ASMR seems to be the experience of pairing the "sudden attention" frisson with a parasympathetic nervous system response. It's pleasurable, but VERY different from normal relaxation.
posted by lastobelus at 11:24 AM on January 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


I experience ASMR and I guess I've been listening/watching Youtube videos for about two years now. I think I stumbled onto it because of a massage video (was it Leela? Lyla? Something like that) and a (useful for once) comment said that if this makes you feel relaxed/tingly you should check out Waterwhispers. So I did. Then I found Gentlewhispering and tons of others.

The triggers are specific to individuals, but share some overlap or commonalities with other folks that can experience this sensation. Speaking for myself only, it has helped to calm my anxiety and overcome insomnia. It shuts up my hamster brain while giving me a pleasant physical sensation that seems to have a calming effect on my body while my brain is getting a nice little break too.

I don't care what it's called. I'm grateful it's a thing, a community, and that any time I start ramping up I can pull up a video about Russian food or hair brushing or pet massage and immediately calm down. If tomorrow we changed the name to goodellysnoo, I'd be a die-hard goodellysnooer.
posted by custardfairy at 11:34 AM on January 28, 2015 [4 favorites]


I get this too. But only from the videos of women whispering, not from any of the men. I think this must say something bad about me.
posted by Justinian at 12:13 PM on January 28, 2015


I do love that the existence of the Internet has led to this renaissance in the exploration of subjective experiences of all kinds. Obviously ASMR is not a new phenomenon, but fifty years ago how likely is it that it would ever come up in conversation? And now not only do we all know about it, but people are creating a community around experimenting with and enjoying it.

Since ASMR seems to be associated with close personal attention and with hair (and hair-like things, e.g. paintbrush bristles), could it be an evolutionary holdover from back when we were covered with fur and required regular grooming? If it's vestigial that could help explain why some people get it and some don't.

Maybe we could work on getting it a more mellifluous name, though. I feel like "nuchal" (relating to the back of the neck) could be a good starting point. Nuchaesthesia?
posted by fermion at 12:24 PM on January 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


I get this too. But only from the videos of women whispering, not from any of the men. I think this must say something bad about me.

I dunno, I lean more towards female whisperers also. There are a few fellas that work magic on me: MassageASMR and The French Whisperer are my go-to male asmrtists. I guess it depends on what sounds or vocal qualities work for you.
posted by custardfairy at 12:42 PM on January 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


There definitely seems to be a bit of a Venn diagram around what "asmr" is — though obviously you can say that about anything to some extent — but I always assumed it specifically meant whatever that tingle is that those head massagers produce. As in, it's a physically sensed event like pins and needles rather than a mental state like relaxation.

I think of the more ambient feeling associated with it as "being groomed". (In the "apes searching for lice" sense).
posted by lucidium at 6:15 PM on January 28, 2015 [2 favorites]


Since ASMR seems to be associated with close personal attention and with hair

For me it is not, which is why I am puzzled by how generally the internet culture for that has galloped in that direction. That is to say, I can certainly sense it sometimes when someone is whispering or doing something with my hair, but the sensation isn't exclusive to that experience, nor do I feel compelled to seek out the "personal grooming" or "care" aspect of it. I just don't experience the two things as related, so it's interesting that the sensation specifically of being groomed or attended to is a big part of this for others, even a sine qua non. It isn't for me.
posted by Miko at 7:00 PM on January 28, 2015


Not true at all. I experience both, and ASMR is completely distinct from the frisson I get from music. Most ASMRers seem to agree that they experience both and that they're two completely different feelings and phenomena.

Thanks very much for the dismissive kneejerk, though!


Right back atcha, and thanks for assuming that I don't know what the sensation is just because I find the absurd nomenclature, commodification, and tremendous narcissism of a sloppily written internet think piece titled "How a bunch of YouTubers discovered a tingling sensation nobody knew existed" to be unworthy of the subject. Consider me schooled.

I mean, how could anyone dare question the millennial origin of something monks wrote about in the Renaissance as one of the divine rewards of being surrounded by scribes working silently on manuscripts? What a threadshitting buzzkill!

Yeah, I get it. Y'all want to talk about your own experiences of whatever you choose to call it instead of, you know, addressing anything at all about the actual piece that was the sole link in the FPP. Mea culpa for wanting to talk about the FPP, but, yeah, thanks for the highly personal responses to a particularly general criticism.

And seriously? You think the sounds musicians make just before they play don't fit perfectly into this realm? C'mon. We get this stuff, and no, we don't mean that we get tingly from a big sweep of Wagnerian strings. The sound of a finger gliding across the wound strings of an unplugged guitar? Yeah. It's that.
posted by sonascope at 7:24 PM on January 28, 2015


This thread has given me an idea for a new channel: BitterASMR. The videos will be me quietly but firmly lecturing the youngins about how everything new is old while gently stroking guitar strings.
posted by these are science wands at 7:40 PM on January 28, 2015 [11 favorites]


Sonascope, has it occurred to you that maybe you don't what you're talking about? Because the sensation I get from a guitar string is absolutely nothing like ASMR, which I first experienced about 40 years ago sitting on a wet towel on a hot street after swimming with a friend who was just then telling me a joke in a peculiarly interesting voice and who, to this day, can produce that same sensation with that same voice.

I've always thought of ASMR as the feeling of curiosity being satiated, even if I'm not really all that curious. I feel sorry for people who don't get it. I thought it was just me because anybody I ever described the feeling to didn't know what I was talking about. That's what a lot of people did and that's why this "ASMR" thing is suddenly a thing.

And now I know how a perceived gluten-allergic person must feel. Except that this has been a real thing for 40 years that I didn't just now invent. It's just now I find that it's not that rare a thing.
posted by Camofrog at 9:44 PM on January 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


Blarg. sonascope, even after your clarification I don't know that the thing you're thinking of is really the same thing that I/the article/the other people in the thread are thinking of. Nor would I say it's like what mathowie describes, or anything like a religion or superstition. Damn, folks, it's hella distinct and consistent as a response so if you're wondering about what it is or whether it's real or what's up with those weird videos that do nothing for you, is it so hard to make your assessment based on the possibility that other people might have a physiological quirk that you don't? The reason we get annoyed at this approach is that its in bad faith.

But I mean, whether or not 'ASMR' is different from the frisson of hearing guitar strings/tuning up/monk quills/etc -- either way, it's what the article is about, it's what we're talking about, and sonascope, you're the one coming in here swinging fists about how it's all nonsense and a sign of how this generation has crap for souls. You are threadshitting, man, and I don't know where you're expecting it to go; I don't agree with any of what you said about how we all want to be "special snowflakes" but it's off-topic anyway and a dull generalization with no worthwhile response save for "whatever, pops".
posted by Drexen at 3:29 AM on January 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


I like other dudes, which used to make me a sodomite, then a pervert, then a uranian, then a homosexual, then gay, then queer, and now a bunch of fucking LGBTQQIA alphabet soup nonsense invented largely by people who get off on being offended at all times and by all things.

:/

Sure, the fact that there are identities that are not simply 'a man who likes other men' means that a bunch of us are now "people who get off on being offended at all times and by all things" because we happen to be bi, or trans, or queer, or intersex.

Not fucking cool, dude.
posted by Dysk at 3:33 AM on January 29, 2015 [7 favorites]


Seriously, though, I'd love to hear how the experience of the ASMR tingle is not the same as the tingle a Renaissance monk got from sitting in a quiet room, hearing the scratching of quills, the rustling of papers, and whispering. How am I getting that wrong? I read the article from top to bottom, listened to the videos, and pretty much everything described is in line with the sounds of scribes.

So enlighten me, if that's your actual goal beyond the ageist slam of ha ha olds.
posted by sonascope at 4:51 AM on January 29, 2015


I'm 43. (Ha, ha! I'm old!)

If the millennials want to be all "RAH RAH new thing" even though maybe not really new, as an old person, I'm totally cool with that and am not offended. They are making cool stuff for me to watch and I have bigger problems. Keep on, 20 something ASMRtists! Until Brother Cadfael, Brother Oswin, & their crew (except brother Jerome, omg what an ass) start uploading videos with a better term than ASMR, I'm cool with that.
posted by pointystick at 5:59 AM on January 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'd love to hear how the experience of the ASMR tingle is not the same as the tingle a Renaissance monk got from sitting in a quiet room

I think the point is that we don't know because we can't ask said Monk for clarification whilst experiencing the same stimulus, whereas communities have built up online around media that appears to elicit the same sensation amongst a subset of watchers.
posted by freya_lamb at 6:04 AM on January 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


Well you did kinda lead in with 'ha ha youngs'! But to answer your question:

I don't know, maybe those monks were describing ASMR and that would be an interesting addition to the conversation if it wasn't accompanied by all the other offensive and wrongheaded stuff you included and your shitty attitude. I don't know what sources you're talking about specifically so it's hard to say. I would suggest that it might be different, and in particular is likely different from what you described earlier about music. I say this because I recognise that more general 'emotional tingle' in reaction to music/films/books as well, and it's not the same -- though as the article notes, they're not dissimilar and might be related. Even more so, it's different from a 'trance' state or being lulled into sleep or anything else like that. It's much closer to the reaction that you can get from a head massager -- the specific type of frisson/shiver you sometimes get from them, mind you, not the general 'tingle' of contact.

So it's a specific physical response that we can subjectively recognise as being distinct. If you don't experience it, it's hard to explain it any further than that beyond the details that are in the article. But another thing that distinguishes it is that it isn't necessarily brought about by emotion, or music or even a specific sound or type of sound (though it can be, for some people). In fact, different people can have different triggers for it -- but usually they are consistent for any given person. This, again, is something that it's hard to convey to someone who doesn't experience it, but I don't see why you have any reason to doubt it other than your hangups.

But whether we're really talking about the same thing or not, those latter factors in themselves are enough to either distinguish, or develop the concept beyond the very vague and opaque way that you and/or any other sources you refer to are describing it. It's a pleasurable thing to experience and a challenge to evoke in others, so there's a small scene of people working around that, which is neat. And it's always interesting to explore and develop aspects of ourselves that are real but rarely talked about. You seem to have some kind of serious objection to that kind of self-examination, but I can't say your objection is interesting to me or sounds like some kind of better or more pure or more manly or more whatever-the-fuck way of being human. You say you learned about this particular thing in 1973 and don't want to give any thought to it beyond that, but why does that mean no-one else can discover it and talk about that? You don't find it interesting, but why should that apply to other people? Why should you expect it to? Even if this is only a rediscovery, rediscovery is cool.

You seem to be tying this into your strong feelings about "alphabet soup" labels, identity politics, etc, and maybe the more prevalent diagnosis of things like depression and ADHD -- I don't share those feelings and I consider them shitty for the reasons Dysk outlined -- but this isn't even the same thing as those, it's just a minor sideline that we explore because it's fun, not because it's especially important per se. There's no need for me/us to justify our interest in it to you beyond the fact that we find it interesting. That's a perfectly good reason to talk about something or even to make YT videos about it, if people will watch. Even this comment is just adding to the derail caused by your threadshitting. Nuff said.
posted by Drexen at 6:08 AM on January 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


So it's a specific physical response that we can subjectively recognise as being distinct. If you don't experience it, it's hard to explain it any further than that beyond the details that are in the article. But another thing that distinguishes it is that it isn't necessarily brought about by emotion, or music or even a specific sound or type of sound (though it can be, for some people). In fact, different people can have different triggers for it -- but usually they are consistent for any given person. This, again, is something that it's hard to convey to someone who doesn't experience it, but I don't see why you have any reason to doubt it other than your hangups.

Except that I can describe the exact same experience as what people talk about here and what the article's about and your response was to no-true-Scottsman me and tell me, no, I don't get it, and no, I can't understand it, and that my resistance to the commodification of the sensation is somehow proof of all this. You are awfully personal talking about the "hangups" of someone you've never met (and apparently, never read, because the claim that I'm somehow a critic of youth is laughable given my constant celebration of millennials in any pretty much any online media), but you're dead set on arguing with who you think I am, rather than any of my points.

You've essentially created a vision of ASMR as a tautology in which the there's this rare and magical truth that only you can understand, and it's unsurprising that that ability to deny my experience of the same thing serves your purpose in projecting me as someone you can dismiss with the kind of ageist bullshit as "whatever, pops," which is just—c'mon. If I were black, would you say "whatever, boy" because I didn't agree with you? It's insulting and, unlike what I've written, it's personal. It's awfully ironic, too, because the thing that irritated me about the article from the FPP was that it sets out a proposition that there's this new thing that only "YouTubers" could figure out, and now, yep, only you can understand the phenomenon.

When you say "I don't know, maybe those monks were describing ASMR and that would be an interesting addition to the conversation if it wasn't accompanied by all the other offensive and wrongheaded stuff you included and your shitty attitude," it's a response that's curious because you say it "would be an interesting addition to the conversation," and yet, rather than actually discuss it, you're back to hectoring me on my tone while taking your own nasty, insulting, bigoted tone, and repeating "threadshitting" over and over as mere repetitition will make it true. I spoke to concepts and trends and history, you spoke down to me, dismissed every point, and didn't bother to answer any questions or address any points other than to spout outrage that someone wasn't following the rules that you set and, apparently, only you know. Fine. I get who's welcome here, and it's not everyone. Enjoy.
posted by sonascope at 6:45 AM on January 29, 2015


Is it possible we simply like some of these videos because we find a pretty young woman speaking softly to us a pleasant experience? As opposed to say, a fucking syndrome?
posted by grubi at 7:27 AM on January 29, 2015


My previous comment notwithstanding, and not to dismiss the thing people are experiencing, but without some sort of study, it's tough to pin this down beyond some anecdotal thing.

I'm ADHD (properly diagnosed and treated 'n' everything), and one of the things about being ADHD is there's little control over one's sensation filter: I hear all the sounds, smell all the smells, feel all the folds in the goddamn blanket AAAAGH NEED TO STAND UP AND LAY IT FLAT BEFORE I CAN LAY BACK DOWN — you get the picture. My wife calls it "Princess & the Pea Syndrome" (which it kinda-sorta is). With little exception, all this dead air/fingernail tapping/microphone brushing/whispery-whispery doesn't evoke an unpleasant reaction after a few seconds. It's not like ugh I hate eating this food or I'm freaking out right now kind of unpleasant; it's more like nope, no thank you. The kind of unpleasant you can tolerate for a little while before it begins to feel oppressive. I work in an office that, a few years ago, went from cubicles (with 5-foot walls and everything!) to an ewgh open concept. Every sniff, whistler, tap, sip, crunch, hum, whisper, conversation, phone vibration are all audible to anyone paying attention but especially to those of us who DO NOT GET TO CHOOSE WHAT WE CONCENTRATE OUR HEARING ON. I'm curious if other ADHD folks feel the same thing.

On one hand, I do not understand fully how this supposed ASMR works or affects these folks, but I'm glad some people find pleasure in these things I cannot stand.
posted by grubi at 7:38 AM on January 29, 2015


I will add this: when I listen to a live recording of a song, I do experience something similar to what's been described as an ASMR reaction: that moment just after the song begins where the audience recognizes the song and begins cheering their approval... whew. Tingly head. I almost always tear up.

But I'm leaning less towards it's ASMR and more towards the likelier explanation that I am reacting empathetically to the perceived communal sense of approval and likely pleasant feeling. But I'm no expert.
posted by grubi at 7:42 AM on January 29, 2015


Sonascope, surely there is something unusual about you that we can all get randomly aggressive and angry about.
posted by Camofrog at 8:10 AM on January 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


*sigh* You know, I get the impression we actually somewhat argued our way into alignment with each other, sonascope, even if things have flared up over our approaches and reactions. Anyway, I've taken this to MeMail so I hope we can move on from that in this thread.
posted by Drexen at 9:41 AM on January 29, 2015


I have really strong responses to these videos. About 3 seconds into the first video on the Mashable page and it's BRRRZZZT all the way down to my legs. The first time I remember this happening was watching Mr. Wizard when I was young, and I had a Korean barber who did Qui Gong that would set me off really good.

Speaking of trance states, Paul Scheele's binaural tapes have this affect as well, and are very very relaxing.

And that video of the guy in a plague doctor mask and the watermelon has got to be the strangest fucking thing I've ever seen on the internet.
posted by daHIFI at 11:35 AM on January 29, 2015


I will have an entire staff of murmurers to walk around right behind me, mumbling in my ear and playing with my hair.

Full-body cringe.

I am so pleased these whispering, big-eyed, faux-intimate chimaeras do nothing for me. Apart from give me the creeps.
posted by glasseyes at 1:35 PM on January 29, 2015


Is it possible we simply like some of these videos because we find a pretty young woman speaking softly to us a pleasant experience? As opposed to say, a fucking syndrome?

Some people like the videos for that reason, I'm sure. I dislike the videos even though I do recognize myself as having "the fucking syndrome." This is why I think not everyone with ASMR associates ASMR with the layers of personal-care-pleasure [is there a German word for that?] that many do.

Maybe we just need a German word for the whole thing. In fact, for those who hang out more in these communities, has anyone said that there is a word in another language that expresses it?
posted by Miko at 1:59 PM on January 29, 2015


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