ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meriden Response) is the term used to describe a tingling sensation that starts at the scalp and travels down the body. Many people claim to have had ASMR sensations since they were children, while others discovered "brain tingles" later in life. Whenever they first experienced ASMR, people claim it helps them relax and fall asleep.
ASMR artists say that's the goal of their videos. However, as the ASMR community exploded during the past two years, those outside of the ASMR community thought that whisper videos were supposed to be erotic.
"It's difficult not to get that impression initially," ASMR artist Ally said. But, she said, the point of the videos is to relax, not arouse.
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Ally started producing ASMR videos about five months ago after her boyfriend told her about how they help him sleep and experience ASMR. Now, she has her own YouTube channel, ASMR Requests, and a loyal fan base. Ally said her videos are dedicated to her viewers by fulfilling their requests for video topics. She said an ASMR video concentrates on one task or role-play that is verbally explained to the viewer in a softly spoken voice.
"It's obvious to the viewer that the person in the video is deeply engrossed in a detailed task so much so that the viewer can almost be there too and experience that extreme focus," Ally said.
The whispered words also help create a level of intimacy between the artist and the viewer. That intimacy helps viewers relax and calm down; however, Non-community members, though, may construe the intimacy as something sexual.
"Our intention is not to make these videos for sexual purposes, but if [the viewer's] interpretation of it is sexual, then there is nothing that we can do really," ASMR artist Ilse said. "We can't control how the viewer is going to experience it."
Before she became an ASMR artist, Ilse worked three jobs and 60 hours a week so she could pay the bills. She said not being happy and being overworked eventually burned her out.
So in February 2012, Ilse started producing whisper videos because she wanted to give something back to the ASMR community. She found that making the videos helped her stay calm and that she loved being an ASMR artist. As she produced more videos, Ilse said she saw the number of her viewers grow.
The positive feedback from viewers encouraged her to become more serious in making ASMR videos. Last September, Ilse decided to make a living out of producing ASMR videos.
"It changed my life completely. That's how I decided this is really the thing I am supposed to be doing," Ilse said. "That's the reason I'm so passionate about [ASMR videos] and why I try to get the word out there, because ASMR just changed my life so drastically on such a big scale."
Since she became an ASMR artist, Ilse said she has had messages from male viewers who say they get aroused by ASMR videos. She explained that getting turned on by ASMR videos is a big problem because the intent is to help promote relaxation.
Her advice to viewers is to watch videos that don't show the ASMR artist's face, but only their hands. The viewer can then concentrate on the artist's hands and voice and nothing else.
"A big part if the ASMR community is making videos where they don't show their face, that is because of that reason, they don't want to be associated with something sexual," Ilse said.
A big misconception in the media about ASMR videos is that they are only made by young beautiful women in front of the camera, Ilse said. However, more men, like ASMR artist Andrew, are producing videos.
"I got started was about a year ago," Andrew explained. "I noticed a lot of people were able to deal with their insomnia issues and things like that through these videos. So I thought maybe I can try making my own videos and seeing if I can help people in that way, too."
Ilse and Ally also said the best part about making ASMR videos is helping people.
"For me, that's mind-blowing because people from different sections, different continents around the globe, with different professions that listen to my videos and that can actually induce relaxation or ASMR or at least it works for them in a good way."
Ally said she gets comments from people who experience severe anxiety and trouble sleeping, but her videos help them sleep and relax.
According to Andrew, the goal of ASMR videos it to help viewers relax, create some human interaction/intimacy and experience ASMR.
ASMR artists hope viewers experience serenity and calm that helps them in life, not sexual arousal.
"Now that I have a voice in the community, my personal mission is to just make it very clear that there is nothing, very truly nothing, that is meant to be creepy or erotic about ASMR," Ally said.
Check out ASMR artists Ilse, Ally and Andrew at their YouTube channels