ASMR is a subculture that’s full of people who like to dress up for a camera. Well I assume they like to dress up, I don’t know if it’s actually a thing they enjoy but at least for now I’d like to imagine they’re doing something they enjoy.
Typically any given description of ASMR is going to involve a description of what the phenomenon is, so here we go: ASMR is an acronym you don’t need to remember for an ill defined ‘response’ some people can get from a range of subtle positive stimuli. Typically but not always, ASMR effects are described as ‘tingling’ along the line of the skull, and can be brought on by specific sounds or groups of sounds with slight variation in the stimuli. As an example, earlier this year, a channel I follow – and like, totally unironically – released a forty minute video of someone wordlessly filling a bucket with soda and ice and gently stirring so I could listen to the clinking of ice and the bubbles of the soda.
ASMR tends to also be connected to some awkward things. For example, ‘trigger’ is a very common word in ASMR communities, and there it’s used unironically and positively to describe something that causes the reaction, so you can get something described as ‘very triggery’ or ‘totally triggered’ which isn’t meant to be a jerkhole’s way of describing someone being upset or bothered by something.
I do experience ASMR, and I use ASMR videos to listen to as background to study and to help me overcome the difficulty of wakefulness that I have. Sometimes I use it when I’m travelling on a bus to help fight carsickness. It’s a whole online cultural space.
ASMR has trends, too; what I listen to is largely on Youtube, which means it is largely driven by the algorithm. Some channels are large enough to have support and sponsors like the familiar podcast supporters, including beds and anime, and that means you get ASMR video trends that tie into sponsors trying out the space. That sometimes means a bunch of anime characters will whisper to you and help you build your costume or your arm or whatever the current in series is. The culture sways to the algorithms of our society.
Around Halloween there’s a pretty easy theme and lots of people play into it:
One other weird thing is that Youtube specifically demonitises videos that are marked as ‘roleplay’ videos, which is kind of weird, and their algorithm is largely working on a very weird model of how advertisers work. This means that you often see people avoid ‘roleplay’ in their roleplay video titles, except when they have presences on sites like patreon and rely on those services other than Youtube advertising to make money.
I don’t actually Halloween much here. I don’t know much about the candy, we don’t have stores that specialise in selling the costumes. I get a bit eh about the way twitter goes a bit silly for a month and all my autosuggested names don’t fill in properly. That’s life, but I don’t want to deprive anyone of their fun.
ASMR is a weird field to look at as media. It’s weird because it’s something that kind of only exists the way it does right now because of the presence of internet subcommunities, and the ability of Youtube to allow for long-form niche production to happen. If I want a ghost pirate to kidnap me in Dutch and whisper about it, I can find that on Youtube, and it’ll inevitably be someone who’s more or less doing it as a full-time job.