The interwebs are nicknamed as such for a good reason. You may follow one path originally and end up somewhere else entirely, hence why most people are inclined to hide or delete their search history. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone on Wikipedia and started with one topic and ended up 500 degrees from Kevin Bacon.
Recently, I accidentally opened the “Explorer” function on Instagram, which essentially recommends accounts and even hashtags (or topics) for you to follow based on your previous search history and what accounts you already follow. What caught my eye?
Initially, I was very confused. I was hoping to see artists being super precise with drawings or watching cake decorators methodically create perfect, tiny identical buttercream flowers. Though there is a little bit of that, the vast majority of #oddlysatisfying consists of “slime videos”.
Essentially, you have people, mostly women with beautiful hands and nails, mashing “slime”. You know, that stuff you can create at home with Elmer’s glue? Some people put in styrofoam beads, confetti bits, food coloring or all the above. They’ll call it “Strawberry Bubblegum” or “Cookies & Cream”, if it resembles that type of item. Instead of eating it, they produce sounds quite similar to what manipulating putty sounds like. They make bubbles and subsequently pop them. They squeeze crunchy styrofoam. Anything to produce an acoustic and or visual ASMR response.
Before you eschew this as bizarre, though I’m not necessarily saying it isn’t, certain accounts on Instagram are 100% devoted to these slime videos and have millions of followers! Why?
Well, they are #oddlysatisfying.
First, let’s define ASMR:
Autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR) is a term used for an experience characterized by a static-like or tingling sensation on the skin that typically begins on the scalp and moves down the back of the neck and upper spine. It has been compared with auditory-tactile synesthesia. ASMR signifies the subjective experience of “low-grade euphoria” characterized by “a combination of positive feelings and a distinct static-like tingling sensation on the skin”. It is most commonly triggered by specific acoustic or visual stimuli, and less commonly by intentional attention control.
Common ASMR videos outside of slime include people whispering, brushing hair or skin, conducting massage tutorials as well as tapping/rubbing/brushing/scratching/cutting typical household items, fabrics, and random materials. The sound of it is supposed to be so relaxing and hypnotic, that it can actually put you to sleep!
Admittedly, with my chronic neck pain, I would watch neck massage technique videos on YouTube and sometimes, the calming voice of the therapist and my own empathetic response of what I imagined the client was feeling put me to sleep! As with the slime videos on Instagram, there are YouTube channels fully devoted to producing ASMR videos. Here is an extremely popular example with over 3 million views.
You may wonder what kind of people tap into this market. Surprisingly, it isn’t just YouTubers. Dr. Sandra Lee, aka Dr. Pimple Popper, is a dermatologist based in California that has over 3.6 million subscribers to her channel, where she performs dermatological procedures. Her videos predominantly feature whitehead, blackhead, and cyst extractions! Gross? Well, yes. But, also satisfying. Satisfying to at least 3.6 million people out there. Additionally, she has calming, pleasant conversations with her clients that sometimes includes endearing “story arcs” over a series of treatments. It’s really made her into a celebrity!
My personal belief is that there’s something innate in human beings that is drawn to all things pleasantly tactile, precise, cleansing and rhythmic. That doesn’t mean you’ll love everything ASMR related out there, but you might find yourself surprised at what can evoke that response from you.
Social media has undoubtedly given ASMR producers a new platform and apparently, a really ardent audience. Maybe it’s so popular because it puts people to sleep when they can’t bear to put down their phone, tablets or computers at night. Reading helps me, but do what you gotta do. Actually, let my blog put you to sleep if it hasn’t already!
Autonomous sensory meridian response. (2018, April 14). Retrieved April 16, 2018, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autonomous_sensory_meridian_response
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