*Snap* *Crackle* *Pop* might be the names of three fictitious elves, but they’re also some very popular sounds in the weird world of ASMR videos that is taking over the internet.
If you spend any time at all on Youtube (or Instagram) (or podcasts), you’ve probably come across media with ‘ASMR’ in the title. On Youtube, there is a massive variety of videos that fall under the genre, usually involving a very specific sound meant to trigger a pleasant sensory response in the viewer. Picture a knife slicing through tightly-packed sand, a truck tire rolling over paintballs until they burst, or a role-playing scenario where someone talks quietly into their very sensitive, very close microphone. Feeling calm yet?
The acronym ASMR stands for autonomous sensory meridian response, a tingly feeling down the back of the head and spine triggered by specific sounds that is believed to induce feelings of calmness and relaxation. From soap-cutting, slime, ice tapping, and even chalk-eating videos all over the world wide web, ASMR has been left widely to different interpretations in terms of its execution. (No matter your preferences, there’s almost definitely an ASMR subgenre out there for you.)
But no matter the kind of ASMR that you may be into, the science agrees that the relaxing benefits of the sensory experience are pretty real. According to a recent study from the University of Sheffield, those who experience ASMR actually show reductions in heart rate –– average decrease of 3.14 beats per minute –– while watching the videos, along with positive emotions and feelings of social connection.
Although many people find ASMR to be incredibly calming (it can be used to treat sleep disorders), other people have a different kind of strong reaction. Misophonia is a disorder in which specific sounds trigger an intensely negative response in someone, usually perceived as excessive by those around them. Ever listened to someone pop their gum and feel like you’re about to scream? Yeah, that might be misophonia.
One popular type of ASMR video involves people eating near their microphone, usually with as much noise as possible (far from how you’d like your neighbor at a restaurant to behave). For people with misophonia, that can be a triggering experience in the most negative sense of the word.
If you don’t suffer from misophonia and enjoy a good tingle down the neck, give ASMR a try and decide: does it live up to the hype?