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Communities and Web 2.0

The ASMR community challenging society’s misconception on ASMR videos

http://networkconference.netstudies.org/2020Curtin/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/The-ASMR-community-challenging-society’s-misconception-on-ASMR-videos.pdf

ABSTRACT

For years now, there has been a growing interest towards ASMR, a new phenomenon which has emerged from web 2.0 and which has formed a large online community. ASMR is the acronym for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response and was a term coined in 2010 by Jennifer Allen. Popular on YouTube, there are different kinds of audio-visual videos with millions of views created by various ASMR artists (also referred to as ASMRtists) and designed mainly for relaxation as well as other purposes. From the very beginning and up till now, there is a controversial debate going on around ASMR videos because people outside the ASMR community who watch and do not understand the purposes of these videos usually base themselves on the society’s stereotypical image on ASMR and immediately assume that the content is sexual and relatedto a kind of sexual fetish which the ASMR community denied. Therefore, this paper will argue that the ASMR community is challenging society’s misconception on ASMR videos because some ASMR videos provide a ‘digital spa’ experience instead of a sexual experience and are shared online by the ASMR community through various web 2.0 tools to show their real purpose thus breaking down the sexual stereotypes. Moreover, some ASMR videos are designed to improve the mental health of some people among the ASMR community rather than being a sexual stimulus and are at the same time contributing in building up a strong and supportive community. Finally, rather than stimulating sexual arousal, ASMR role-play videos bring back the viewer’s first ASMR experience from his childhood which encourage him to fully embrace his identity as a member of the ASMR community.

KEYWORDS: Web 2.0, ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response), ASMR Community, ASMRtists, YouTube, Tingles, Sexual Stereotypes.  

Introduction

Most people spending quite a lot of time on the Internet and on the various social platforms must have heard of the popular term ASMR. ASMR is a relatively new pop culture phenomenon which owes its success mainly from YouTube which was “central to the creation of the ASMR community” (Smith & Snider, 2019, p. 42) and from the various YouTube channels created by ASMR artists also referred to as ASMRtists. ASMR stands for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response and is a term invented by Jennifer Allen in 2010. Looking forward at the ASMR community which is also known as the ‘tingle community’ or ‘whisper community’, there has been significant changes since its first introduction as this community is one of the many communities which has grown up with web 2.0 at a very spectacular speed. The main characteristic of ASMR videos is that the viewers usually “experience tingling sensations in the crown of the head, in response to a range of audio-visual triggers such as whispering, tapping and hand movements” (Poerio et al., 2018, p. 1) and with a large number of followers and subscribers on every social platforms, these videos are becoming more and more popular. Some people among the society still remain confused and cannot understand the reason why others watch these kind of videos (Kovacevich & Huron, 2019, p. 39) and when they browse about it on the Internet, they tend to misinterpret the content and immediately come to the conclusion that there are some sexual connotations as most of the ASMR creators are attractive women whispering closely to a microphone. As Starr et al. (2020) stated, “this popularity has brought challenges, as the nature and boundaries of ASMR performance are increasingly contested” (p. 3). Therefore, this paper will argue that the ASMR community is challenging society’s misconception on ASMR videos because some ASMR videos provide a ‘digital spa’ experience instead of a sexual experience and are shared online by the ASMR community through various web 2.0 tools to show their real purpose thus breaking down the sexual stereotypes. Moreover, some ASMR videos are designed to improve the mental health of some people among the ASMR community rather than being a sexual stimulus and are at the same time contributing in building up a strong and supportive community. Finally, rather than stimulating sexual arousal, ASMR role-play videos bring back the viewer’s first ASMR experience from his childhood which encourage him to fully embrace his identity as a member of the ASMR community.

‘Digital spa’ experience and use of web 2.0 tools

With all the facilities provided by web 2.0, some ASMRtists are producing audio-video content to create a ‘digital spa’ on YouTube, with the main purpose of providing the same state of relaxation as the few ASMR physical spa treatments rather than a sexual desire and by sharing these content on other social media platforms, the ASMR community is showing the real aspect of these videos thus breaking down the stereotypes. The ASMR community that is both the ASMRtists and the viewers have beneficiated from all the technological innovations since the emergence of web 2.0 and nowadays, ASMRtists are dedicated in producing high quality videos and sounds with professional video cameras and sophisticated microphones. Therefore, through the high-quality content being created, the main aim of the artist is to transport the viewers into the same trance-like state of relaxation obtained at ASMR physical spa treatments but this time the viewers do not have to leave the comfort of their home. As Garro (2017) stated, “in an age of smartphones and mobile listening, ASMR has brought viewers back to their house, searching for listening pods” as now they need “just the interaction mediated through an Internet platform with charismatic individuals who perform a variety of noise” (pp. 398-400). Moreover, the viewers also experience the sensation of hearing sounds close to their ears that stimulate a ‘tingling’ sensation which is not sexual at all as “these ‘tingles’ are typically accompanied by positive emotions as well as this feeling of deep relaxation” (Smith et al., 2017, p. 361). On YouTube, a large number of ASMR videos designed to provide this ‘digital spa’ experience can be found and most of them start with the frame focusing closely on the face of the artists who are mostly women. Looking straight at the camera and with a soft voice, they usually explain that they will be providing to the viewers this tingling sensation also known as ‘brain tingles’ or ‘brain orgasm’, in order for them to experience the pleasant feeling of deep relaxation at home. For the majority of people, this scenario and the terms used can be misunderstood as they are “misleadingly evocative of sexual or taboo activity” (Richard, 2016, as cited in Gallagher, 2019, p. 269) which then encourage people outside the tingle community to think that these types of videos are “like product of the world’s strangest fetish even if they’re not even remotely sexual” (Fagan ,2012, as cited in Gallagher, 2019, p. 269).

Therefore, to prove that these types of ASMR videos differ completely from the stereotypical image the society has, the ASMR community is using the power of social media platforms to create an infrastructure on which they are working together to show the true aspect of the ASMR universe. It is in fact the terms used by the ASMR community which involuntarily enhance the sexual stereotypes around these audio-visual content and bring confusion in the mind of all those who are not initiated in the community but as Lochte et al. (2018) claimed, the reason why “ASMR is often referred to as ‘brain orgasm’ and ‘brain tingle’ is because of the reported sensation of deep relaxation and pleasant tingling sensation in the head” (p. 302). In a way, by constantly sharing this type of content on the various social platforms, the community is actually challenging the popular discourse on these videos as they are showing to those having a distorted image on these videos that there is nothing sexual at all. For example, ASMRtists like Gibi who actually has 2.58 million of subscribers on YouTube, are fighting for their community in order to change the society’s misconception on ASMR videos. Gibi wants people outside the community to realize that ASMR is an “art, not a weird sexual fetish” (Wilson, 2018, para.4). This example shows that ASMRtists are trying to use their influence as well as their popularity to voice out for their community and to encourage all of them to empower themselves and fight against the sexual stereotypes. Another ASMRtist, Olivia Kisser, even claimed that “most people don’t think of a massage as sexual but if you make it that way then it is” (Mervosh, 2018), meaning that the debate around ASMR being sexual or not is based only on the society’s stereotypes and assumptions. Therefore, this becomes a motivation for both artists and viewers to educate the ‘outsiders’ (Smith & Snider, 2019, p. 42) and to establish the truth by sharing their experiences on the various social platforms thus bringing the interest in ASMR videos to another level. The ASMR community is using the various web 2.0 tools provided to create a ‘digital spa’ and to demonstrate that ASMR content do not trigger any sexual desire at all even if the terms used can be misinterpreted.

Mental health and community building

People suffering from mental illness among the ASMR community find a digital healing technique through specific ASMR videos and also have the opportunity of building up a strong and supportive community online. ASMR videos have long been stereotyped and referred to as sexual content but a large number of people among the community suffering from a psychological distress have publicly claimed and praised specific ASMR videos as a therapeutic tool providing a therapeutic response which help them to cope with their mental illness. As Del Campo and Kehle (2016) stated, “the response is associated with several facets of happiness including positive emotions, relaxation, serenity and attenuation of symptoms of anxiety, stress, chronic pain and depression- in brief, an increase in happiness” (p. 100). Some ASMRtists like Maria of GentleWhispering which is considered as one of the three most popular ASMR content creator even reported that “they began producing videos after perceiving their own psychological benefits from viewing the videos of other producers” (Beck, 2013, as cited in Del Campo & Kehle, 2016, p. 100). Rather than seeing a professional therapist, some people among the whisper community prefer to have a digital therapy through ASMR videos and to beneficiate from the distant intimacy created between them and the creators. The aspect of digital intimacy which is formed is building up a connection without the need of being in contact physically and as Garro (2017) stated, “the therapeutic dimension of ASMR empowers both artists who adopt the healer role without specific medical and religious training and viewers who have a considerable level of control over the choice of healing content, the timing and the context where the amelioration takes place” (p. 400). As part of the digital therapy, the artist usually gives the feeling of being close with the viewer by actually touching the screen and by whispering closely to the microphone but the fact that they are creating an intimacy between the viewer does not mean that there is any kind of sexual connotations. As Kraft et al. (2017) stated, psychology and technology are merging together (p. 180) and studies demonstrated that the videos are viewed for the therapeutic benefits and “sexual arousal is not a reliable outcome…” (Poerio et al., 2018, p. 14).

Aside from the potential therapeutic effect, there is also the aspect of social connectedness which is formed among the community. Through the comment section of every therapeutic ASMR videos, people have the opportunity to connect and relate to other ASMR viewers all around the world who are facing the same situation as them. As Lyford (2019) stated, “we don’t necessarily need to be together to feel together” (p. 12) and this is what the ASMR community is demonstrating. By replying other people’s comment and vice-versa, there is a network which is being formed and this is also showing that “publishing individual activities is the first step toward a potential coordination with others…making personal expression public gives the opportunity to organize collective activities” (Aguiton & Cardon, 2007, p. 55). Therefore, the ASMR viewers are building up an understanding and supportive community only by giving an additional support to each other through the comment section.


Figure 1

Screenshot of comments from a YouTube Video, by Ozley ASMR, 2019

(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h0Xp66bFN6U).


Figure one is an example which reflect the aspect of networking and how the viewers as well as the ASMRtist are building up a strong and supportive community even if the person is a stranger for them and it also shows how the support of others actually helps. People among the ASMR community suffering from any mental illness not only beneficiate from a digital therapy from the ASMRtists by are also having the opportunity of connecting with others who are in the same situation as them thus building a strong and supportive community.

Childhood memories, importance of community and identity

Rather than stimulating sexual arousal, ASMR role-play videos bring back the viewer’s first ASMR experience from his childhood which encourage him to fully embrace his identity as a member of the ASMR community. To understand the effect of role-play videos on the viewers, people outside the ASMR community must dispel the stereotypical image that they have in mind because the fact that it is mostly women who produce these types of videos does not mean that they are designed to stimulate sexual arousal. On YouTube, role-play videos are considered as the most popular and most viewed videos among the ASMR community as ASMRtists engage themselves in the production of different kind of role-play scenarios where they act as if they are “giving the viewer a hair-cut, a makeover, a facial skin care treatment or an ear or eye examination” (Starr et al., 2020, p. 5). Through the various scenarios produced, there is the aspect of virtual caring which is depicted and which encourage the viewer to keep watching over and over again and as Barratt and Davis (2015) stated, during role-play scenarios, the artist considers the viewer as a participant and not as a spectator so there is this kind of close proximity which is being formed while being taken care virtually (p. 2). It is this aspect of virtual caring which is wrongly perceived in society as people assume that the scenarios contain sexual connotations but as many viewers claimed, this only brings back their first ASMR experience as the sounds created as well as the feeling derived from these ASMR role-play videos relate closely to a real-life situation in their childhood. As Ahuja (2013) stated, “those who claim awareness of ASMR usually describe a sensory pattern that has persisted since childhood” (p. 444).

Not everyone understands and has experienced ASMR since their childhood and it is difficult and embarrassing for an ASMR viewer to share his experiences with people around him and to fully embrace his identity as a member of the ASMR community. Moreover, these experiences are at the same time strange and unique that it is hard to describe it to others especially if they still have a misconception on ASMR videos in general. There is always the fear of being considered as deviant and as Becker (1963) claimed, “one can describe anything that differs from what is most common as a deviation” (p. 4). Therefore, there is this willingness for the viewers to find people who shared the same experiences as them and it is only among the ASMR community that they are able to find this sense of community and that they are encouraged to fully embrace their identity as one of them without the fear of being judge. As Kendall (2011) stated, “communities do not exist without some sense of community identity among participants” (p. 318) and for an ASMR viewer, being part of the ASMR community is a way for them to accept with confidence who they are without the fear of being considered as an outsider when they share their experiences. As Maria of Gentlewhispering with millions of views on her role-play videos said in an interview, “…now people are embracing it and seeing the potential” (Dang, 2016). ASMR role play videos aside from the stereotypical image the society has on them, are in fact helping ASMR viewers to embrace fully their identity as a member of the ASMR community. 

Conclusion

Since the emergence of web 2.0, there has been significant changes in the way communities are formed and this can be seen through the ASMR community. Without web 2.0, the ASMR community would not have been able to evolve and become today’s huge online community that everyone is aware of. Not many studies have been conducted on the ASMR phenomenon but from the research done, one can understood that the biggest debate around the universe of ASMR is the society’s perception on ASMR videos and its community. People tend to misinterpret ASMR content and immediately assume that they contain sexual connotations and are a kind of sexual fetish. Therefore, this paper has been defending the point of view that the society has a misconception on ASMR videos because these videos have different purposes and are helping the ASMR community to embrace and empower themselves thus becoming a strong and supportive community which challenge the stereotypes and show the different aspects of ASMR by using the various web 2.0 tools available nowadays.

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35 replies on “The ASMR community challenging society’s misconception on ASMR videos”

Hello, Anne-Sophie,
Honestly, I have really enjoyed reading your paper. The topic ASMR video is a topic that I have never read about. I knew about it but never really ponder on it. Now that you talk about its misconception I have learned something new. I am sure you must have watched an ASMR video. What is your reaction about it? Do you get that tingling sensation back in your head?

Thank you for your comment Nafeesah 🙂 I’m glad you learned something new from my paper.

Indeed, while doing my research on the topic I have watched ASMR videos and to be honest with you I have not experienced this ‘tingling’ sensation. However, through the comment section I noticed that for the majority of viewers it was the case and they actually acknowledged that they immediately experience the pleasant feeling of deep relaxation derived from that ‘tingling’ sensation in their head.

Hi Laeticia,

Great choice of topic here, I genuinely liked it as a single conference paper has taught me so much about ASMR. Formerly, I had only a mere encounter with this term on YouTube and I’m going to be honest, I had the same misconception about it being some sort of sexual fetish. Thanks to your paper I have been able to clear this misunderstanding and now I am interested in experiencing that tingling sensation of a digital spa, again a term I had never heard of. It’s amazing how the sense of community is evolving with the web 2.0, bringing with it new challenges to be overcome as with the stereotypes surrounding the ASMR community.

While this may be out of your topic range, you might want to read about the online community of Instagram, and how it encourages self acceptance in young girls by normalising being curvy. Below is a link to my paper:
http://networkconference.netstudies.org/2020Curtin/2020/05/10/the-online-community-of-instagram-a-tool-promoting-self-acceptance-in-young-females/

Thank you for your comment Farheen,

I really appreciate that you have been able to clear this misunderstanding and learned the real purpose of ASMR videos through my conference paper. Yes, you should definitely watch an ASMR video if you are interested with this ‘digital spa’ experience and who knows, maybe you will be part of the ASMR community.

Your topic seems very interesting and I will definitely have a look at your paper 🙂

hello,
very interesting paper, i always watch asmr videos just for the food but never really read about it. i knew it was a form of relaxation but did not know that some people was seeing it as ‘sexual fetish’. Thanks to your paper i have learned more about asmr and the term ‘digital spa’ i never knew it about. To be honest i had no reaction to asmr whether its relaxing or not, asmr being a community etc…but, now that i read your paper i will watch asmr videos differently. And how about you,do you “experience the tingling sensation” when watching asmr?

Thank you for commenting Jade,

Same! I usually watch ASMR mostly for the food and for entertainment as I come across this type of ASMR videos very often on social media. Have you ever seen those videos where the ASMRtist shows food that looks like real stuffs? That’s what I see the most online and as I watch them for entertainment, I do not experience that ‘tingling’ sensation. And as I also mentioned in my paper, there are different kind of ASMR videos with different purposes and it is clear that some people are more sensible to this feeling than others.

Hello,

What an interesting topic! I was most interested about your discussion on ASMR’s benefits on mental health. I knew that it helped with relaxation but it was great seeing the extent to which ASMR can help those dealing with anxiety or depression. I had always merely assumed that it was just used to help people sleep or relax but never realised it could actually be used as a coping tool. This has definitely given me a new perspective on the ASMR community.

Thank you for your comment,

I’m glad that through my paper you discovered another aspect of ASMR videos in relation with mental health. I also thought that it was just to help people sleep or relax and I was very impressed when I learned that some videos actually help people to cope with their mental distress and to form a supportive community at the same time.

Anne-Sophie, thank you for your paper. Very interesting topic, something that I have never heard of before, I even needed to google it before reading your paper just to get a better understanding of it. Your paper has been very informative on the subject of ASMR and you did present it very well.

The case you present indicates that ASMR is more of a digital spa-like experience as opposed to a sexual experience that I do not disagree with but as someone who has listened to this for the first time, I would like to present my point of view.

As a male listening to ASMR, I first found it very weird, it was like why is she whispering, however, the more I listened to the video, I did pick up that its a play on the auditory nerves. When I try to make connections in my brain, the connection it makes is that this whispering is something associated with when a female would do to sexually arouse a male. Also, I have been for hypnotherapy before so I understand the tools these specialists use to induce relaxation. One of them is the background music, lighting but most importantly the specialist speaks in an audible voice, not a whisper.

You do mention that most ASMR creators are attractive females, so are the only popular ASMR artists attractive? What is the engagement levels on those that not attractive? So, if attraction gets more views than none attraction this could be a reason why some perceive it as Sexual. Considering that this is a service they provide, attraction should not be a factor right?

This is not to debunk what you have presented, I am just curious if you look at both sides as based on my experience I could easily agree with the counter arguments.

Thank you again for your interesting paper, I have learned something new today. I do look forward to your feedback.

Regards

Tyrone

Hey Tyrone,

Thank you for taking the time to read my paper and share your point of view. I’m glad that you learned something new from it and I must also say that you asked me very good and challenging questions.

First of all, just tell me something. When you first google ‘ASMR videos’ or look for ‘ASMR’ on YouTube, what have you seen? Have you noticed that most of the videos which appear are from female ASMRtists and that there are only few videos created by males which appear? So, in my paper when I mentioned that “…most of the ASMR creators are attractive women…”, it was to point out that when people browse about ASMR on the Internet, very often they come across videos where the creators are mostly attractive women who are looking straight at the camera, whispering with a soft voice and using some confusing terms to describe the deep feeling of relaxation that they will provide. This is the reason why some viewers who do not understand the real purpose of these types of videos immediately misinterpret the content and come to the conclusion that there are some sexual connotations.

But it’s an important point that you highlighted when you asked if “only popular ASMRtists are attractive”. If we look at youtubers in general, they usually look attractive and used appealing thumbnails to catch the attention of people thus have more views and more people joining their community. In my opinion, it is also the same for the ASMRtists and here I am referring to both females and males. On YouTube there are so many videos published every day and it’s like a strategy for youtubers to put emphasis on the visual appeal in order to catch the attention of more people and gain more popularity. However, because ASMR videos are quite different from the content we usually found on YouTube and as there is a misconception around the entire universe of ASMR, having women who put emphasis to their appearance can contribute to the debate on whether or not ASMR videos are sexual but for me it’s all about the aesthetic of the video. It is also clear that for the members of the ASMR community, having female ASMRtists who look attractive in their video does not mean that the videos are designed to stimulate sexual arousal.

Concerning the level of engagement, I think that for a member of the ASMR community who is used to ASMR videos and who mainly wants to benefit from the deep feeling of relaxation provided by the artist through the sounds he produce, it does not really matter if the artist is attractive or not because what is important for the viewers is the ability of the artist to transport his audience into this trance-like state of relaxation. The focus will be more on the experience and the feeling of relaxation provided by ASMRtists to the audience and they will still have their views and people who will follow them. Think about the ASMR videos designed to improve mental health, do you think that people are going to pay attention to the attractiveness of the ASMRtist? They just want to take advantage of the therapeutic effect of these videos and have the support from the artist and the community. The viewers usually come back because of the bond and the connection that ASMRtists create with their community. So, in my opinion, the level of engagement remain the same and I think that being attractive is just for the aesthetic of the video and it is a way of catching the attention of people and gaining more views on the videos.

You also mentioned that in hypnotherapy the specialist speaks in an audible voice, not a whisper and yes because he does not want his patient to fall asleep because if he sleeps, he will lose the benefits of the session, right? On the other side, ASMR videos are created because the artist want the viewers to feel relaxed and to actually fall asleep especially if they have problems like insomnia.

I hope that I have answered your questions and that you understood my point of view. Looking forward to hear from you back 🙂

Hi Anne-Sophie,
Firstly, I’d like to tell you that I enjoyed reading your paper. To be honest, I am myself a big fan of ASMR videos and I just realized that there is a lot of things that I was not aware of.
It is only today that I learned that ASMR stands for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response. And also, you raised a point on the ”Digital Spa” experience that many ASMR viewers experience by simply watching those videos. I enjoy watching those videos online because I feel relaxed while watching them and you mentioned that viewers are in this state of relaxation while watching them and this is true! However, another interesting thing that I learned from your essay is that ASMR videos are seen as being related to something sexual! We share the same opinion about this. I don’t think that ASMRtists would focus on the sexual aspect rather they would focus more on how to create a community among other ASMR viewers and thank you for pointing out about the digital healing technique through ASMR where ASMR viewers build a community to voice out about mental health issues and all.
I greatly agree with the statement from Lyford (2019) who claimed that ”We don’t necessarily need to be together to feel together.”, and this ASMR online community is a concrete example to prove this statement.
Lastly, you argued about the ASMR role-play videos which are closely related to a real-life situation in the ASMR viewers’ childhood, I think that this is a very interesting and important concept because this helps the ASMRtists to embrace fully their identity which you mentioned.
Your piece of work was a very informative one. Good job!

Hi Rhoma,

Thank you for taking the time to read my paper and share your thoughts 🙂

I’m glad that you have been able to learn more on ASMR videos and now you also know what the term ASMR stands for.

Indeed, the statement from Lyford (2019) is clearly portrayed through the ASMR online community especially when ASMRtists create strong connection with their community through their videos and when the viewers support each other in the comment section.

Thanks again for your comment!

Hi Laeticia,

Frankly speaking, I love reading your paper. It is the first time that I read on ASMR. I watch ASMR videos on YouTube, TikTok and Instagram but I did not know that there is a misconception on it. However, when I saw the words sexual fetish, I realized that for a second, I had the same misconception but with the arguments and references as back ups, I can now say that this misunderstanding is long gone 😂.

My paper may be not in the same stream as yours but if you have some time, please feel free to read mine which is on Identity and Social Networking Sites.

http://networkconference.netstudies.org/2020Curtin/2020/05/11/online-personae-and-inauthenticity-are-parallels-on-social-networking-platforms/

Thank you for your comment Alexia 🙂

I’m glad to know that my argument and supporting ideas have helped you to clear this misunderstanding on ASMR videos and it’s good that it is now long gone for you 😂

Hi Anne Sophie,
First of all, I would like to congratulate for your so well-written paper!
To be honest I also did not know about ASMR and what does it really mean because i never heard of it before but thanks to you, I now have great knowledge about this.
i can feel that People who form part of this ASMR community have felt their life have changed after joining and keeping in touch with the members. They are doing a great job and I hope ASMR becomes more famous and people become more aware of it.
The three points you have raised are very good ones and it makes me feel sad and happy also because the community as a whole is fighting against any problem which arises and are not losing hope despite all the critics. Maybe people should learn more about ASMR and what they are doing before shouting out negative views or comments on the community.
Thank you again for your paper! Loved it!

Hey Vinanda! Thank you for commenting and sharing your thoughts and I’m glad that through my paper you learned something you never heard of before 🙂

Indeed, in a way the life of these people has changed since they became a member of the ASMR community because among this community, they are no more considered as ‘outsiders’ or ‘deviant’ thus they can fully embrace their identity as an ASMR viewer. And as there is also this sense of belonging because they are among people who are like them and who understand the real purpose of ASMR videos, they are no more afraid of being judged and are more confident.

As you said, people should learn more on ASMR and yes you are right because I think that people should look at both sides of ASMR and not base themselves on assumptions. By doing so they will be able to understand the real reason why these videos are being created (i.e. for relaxation etc…and not for sexual arousal).

Thank you again for reading my paper!

Hi marie,

I totally agree with the idea of ASMR being a kind of digital spa. It just engages with the viewer in such a unique was and feels almost cleansing to watch. Its very similar to how some people like to watch pimple posting and pore cleaning videos but it’s a little less clinical. I think there is something satisfying about seeing something done perfectly or done to get a satisfactory result from, like in these ASMR videos. It’s very sensational which I think we respond well too.

Also, this might be an obscure reference for some but unfortunately rule 34 is for sure a thing. i guess, If there can be ‘My Little Pony’ porn out there, it’s unsurprising that there’s ASMR porn too. Internet comunities can be a strange bunch and it’s a shame that some of them might ruin the reputation of something that was originally just intended for a quick relaxation.

some quick questions, what do you see the future of ASMR to be like and do you think the idea of a virtual spar will be taken further?

Additionally, you discussed how it was attractive people doing the videos. Do you think that has to do with internet algorithms as well as psychology. Because I know platforms like tic Tok favour attractive and rich looking people for their “for you” page, so could this be a little bit of a similar situation where it’s not necessarily the people favouring attractive people making content but also the platform feeding attractive peoples content to the viewers?

a very interesting article, good job 🙂

Hey Charles! Thank you for taking the time to read my paper and share your opinions 😊

You highlighted a very good point here when you talked about this obscure reference – ‘rule 34’ and we share the same opinion on that. In the case of ASMR videos, it’s very unfair that the reputation of videos that were meant for relaxation have been ruined by things like that which also contribute to the debate on whether ASMR videos are sexual or not. You also said that, “…it’s unsurprising that there’s ASMR porn too…” and actually these types of videos have been created in China and the Chinese government has ordered the removal of all ASMR videos and ASMR has completely been banned.

Regarding your questions, I think that ASMR will become more and more popular in the future and with all the technological innovations, I think that the ASMRtists will be able to produce good quality videos and sounds which will improve the viewers’ experience. Moreover, I think that their community will still grow and become stronger because members of this community are determined to fight against the stereotypes around the AMSR universe and they are also encouraged to embrace their identity as an ASMR viewer without the fear of being considered as ‘outsiders’.

The idea of the ‘Digital Spa’ will definitely be taken further because we are living in a digital world where people are always connected online with their mobile phone and with all the technological advances, it will not be surprising if the aspect of the digital spa is seen everywhere and not only in ASMR videos.

When I mentioned ‘attractive’ in my paper it was only to put emphasis on the fact that people tend to have a misconception on ASMR videos because when they first google ASMR or look for ASMR on YouTube, they usually come across videos created by attractive women. Moreover, this does not mean that only attractive ASMRtists became popular because people watch ASMR videos mainly because of the artist’s ability to transport them in a state of relaxation and for the virtual bond created between the artist and the viewer. (Please refer to my answer for Tyrone’s question above, I have explained in more details my point of view on this aspect of ‘attractiveness’ on YouTube).

I hope that I have been able to answer your questions and feel free to add anything you want 🙂

Regards,

Anne-Sophie

Hi Anne-Sophie,

What a great read, your paper is very insightful and well-structured!

I am also a member of the ASMR community, and I especially like the videos of people eating ramen~^ I also believe that Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response is nothing about sexual experience, it is “experience tingling sensations in the crown of the head, in response to a range of audio-visual triggers such as whispering, tapping and hand movements” as you mentioned. I agree that the ASMR community is showing the real aspect of ASMR and breaking down the stereotypes online.

As the ASMR community heavily relies on the facilities provided by web 2.0, do you think that the ASMR community is formed only because of because digital technologies and social media, and without these the ASMR community would not have formed? Would love to hear your thoughts 🙂

Congratulations again on a great paper, and thank you for commenting on my paper 🙂

Agnes

Hey Agnes,

Thank you for taking the time to read my paper and share your thoughts 🙂

According to me, without the facilities provided by web 2.0, it would have been difficult for the ASMR community to form and become the strong community it is today. While doing some background research on ASMR before writing my paper, I found out that the community was formed through an online health forum called “Weird Sensation Feels Good” at the beginning and at that time the term ‘ASMR’ was not even invented. People while looking for this ‘weird’ sensation on the Internet were directed towards health forums where they were able to connect with other people who have experienced this ‘tingling sensation’ as well while watching random videos or when people were whispering etc… It was in 2010 when Jennifer Allen coined the term ‘ASMR’ that more and more people were joining the community as this ‘weird’ feeling has finally got a name which they can refer to. It is then with the help of various web 2.0 tools that members of the community created ASMR groups on Facebook and artists created their YouTube channels thus enabling more people to join the community and to be aware of ASMR videos.

The community can be formed in an offline environment as well but I think that it will be more difficult for someone who has experienced the ‘tingling’ sensation to share his experience with people around him. As this feeling is not experienced by everybody, many people found it ‘strange’ and do not understand the purpose of ASMR videos so in an offline environment, it may be difficult for someone to find people who share the same experience and to talk to them openly without the fear of being judge or considered as ‘weird’. This is why I think that the ASMR community relies on the online environment to built this huge and supportive online community.

What about you? Do you think that the ASMR community would have been able to form without web 2.0?

And thank you again for your comment! 😊

Hello,

Your paper was fascinating to read! I’ve personally watched ASMR for many years now as I enjoy it’s relaxation qualities but I’ve never looked into the mental health benefits or controversies surrounding it. It was also a very unique topic to write on, and your efforts to contribute to altering the general’s misconception about ASMR have clearly worked on your readers!

You used a great array of sources and your work reads as very well researched. This is also reflected in your responses to comments.

Hi Riley,

Thank you so much for your comment and your positive feedback.

I’m glad that through my paper you have explored another aspect of ASMR videos related to mental health 🙂

Regards,

Anne-Sophie

Hi Anne Sophie,
I would like to congratulate you as your conference paper was really amazing. The arguments you point out was interesting and the way that you have elaborated on the ASMR community is really engaging. You have been able to enhance the knowledge of many readers throughout this topic as the ASMR community is often left apart in the virtual sphere. You have highlighted that the ASMR community is challenging society’s misconception and I do agree with your point. While writing this paper, I think that you have watched several videos and I would like to know if you had this tingling sensation.

Harmony.

Hello Harmony,

Thank you for your comment and your positive feedback. Indeed, I have watched some ASMR videos but as I said in my previous answers to this question, I have not experienced this ‘tingling sensation’. I guess some people are more sensible and receptive to this feeling than others. Thank you again for your comment 🙂

Hi Anne-Sophie,

Great paper! I have never really delved into any form of ASMR and the closest I’ve gotten is having them pop up on my feeds on facebook and instagram. Very interesting to see how community forms around something which brings more and more people together through something like ASMR. I would also say that it has made me want to take a second look as to why people watch this kind of content and why it is such a large success for many ASMRtists. In discussions with my friends we would typically agree that peoples motivation for wanting to consume this kind of content has some form of arousal or something of the sorts which is why we may not get it, but now I will have to maybe bring another view of this community to our discussion if we should have something of the sorts again.

By reading your paper it has helped me give something I thought I had formed an opinion on a second chance. The ASMR community is a good example of a community forming through Web 2.0, and is a perfect example of how it is driven by user generated content.

Thanks,
Campbell

Hello Campbell,

Thank you for reading my paper and sharing your point of view. Indeed, ASMR videos can be confusing and you may assume that they have ‘some form of arousal’ but I’m glad that through my paper you have been able to see ASMR videos from another perspective.

Thanks again! 🙂

Hello Anne-Sophie,

Your paper is very well-eleborated and talks about a trend that many people have heard or seen. Personally , I am not a fan of ASMR videos because I get irritated with the little sounds such as them munching the food. Some tend to be very relaxing,I agree. I only enjoy when there are those “satisfying video” on Snapchat or YouTube where the person is cutting through kinetic sand, soap or squeezing a squishy/stress ball. I can understand why some people might take it as some weird fetish. 😂

I appreciate how you talked about how as a community, they’re being able to help each other to overcome issues but also help their viewers. It’s the positive outcomes that count.

If you have time, do check my paper: http://networkconference.netstudies.org/2020Curtin/2020/05/11/social-media-as-a-platform-used-to-improve-academic-performance-of-students/

Hello, thank you for your comment. As you said, ” it’s the positive outcomes that count” and I totally agree with you. It’s good to see that some people are having the support and the help that they needed from other ASMR viewers thus building up a strong and supportive community.

Yes, I will have a look at your paper 🙂

Hi Anne-Sophie

I really enjoyed your paper! As I’m not very involved in the ASMR community, I found it an insightful read and it definitely challenged the sexual stereotypes that I often hear about.

In the past, I mostly came across ASMR content when it related to memes- I appreciate how you gave ASMR a greater sense of purpose and credibility when relating it to mental health and identity.

Thank you for referring me to your paper!

Giorgii 🙂

Hi Anne
Sorry for the late comment on your paper, what an interesting article,i would never thought “digital spa” does exist it is truly a fresh pf breath air that some these on line communities platforms are targeting on improving mental health for their users.
I also agree on your comment that ASMR platform could be use as digital healing therapy platform and members could benefit from sharing their experience.
thanks
Sam.

Hi Anne-Sophie,

Interesting read! Thank you for linking me your paper.

I have experienced these sensations/tingles when hearing particular sounds my entire life. Prior to discovering the ASMR community in 2016 I did not know there was a name for it, let alone an entire online community dedicated to it! It was actually an incredibly comforting feeling.

I agree with your argument completely, the ASMR community should not have a sexual connotation attached to it. I find this to be the most frustrating misconception about ASMR. I was reading through some of the other comments on the paper and I concur with Charles. The internet is an extremely diverse and often strange landscape to navigate, if they are making pornography out of children’s cartoons then it is unsurprising that they are making porn out of ASMR. However, just as we do not label said cartoons as sexual, there is no need to label the ASMR community as that.

Do you believe ASMR we will reach the mainstream in the coming years instead of being viewed as a niche internet subculture?

Great work!

Hi Anne-Sophie,

Great paper, thank you for linking me!

ASMR is a fascinating subject to me as it seems to be a combination of physical and cerebral sensations that is only experienced by some people. I remember being about 7 years old, watching a scene in Toy Story (the one where the restorer cleans Woody) over and over again because I thought it was so satisfying!

I do think some of the online videos of ASMR in the Youtube sector of the internet seem to be very contrived and inauthentic- the videos of people intimately whispering and brushing things over their face with an orgasmic expression definitely belies the concept of it as a weird sexual fetish thing.

I had never considered ASMR ‘artists’ being involved in a community or interacting with each other much. I had also never thought that it may be a refuge for people with mental health issues to relax and feel comforted so that was interesting to learn and read about.

Great work!
Melissa

Hi Anne-Sophie,

What an interesting topic! I have heard of ASMR before but when i read through your paper, i was confused when i saw the term sexual fetish. I thought ASMR was just about eating as sometimes I watch ASMR eating or cooking videos to solve my food cravings. Your paper definitely provided me with a new perspective on ASMR. I also googled about sexual fetish as I wasn’t really familiar with it, thus didnt understand why sexual fetish is linked to ASMR if ASMR is just for relaxation. Thank you for sharing such an informative topic.

Thanks,
Melina

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