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The Allure of ASMR and Its Influence on Internet Culture

Pop Culture

Fri, January 26

Did you just come back from school and are now looking for a soothing escape, a calming voice to drown the sorrows away? Chances are, you’ve stumbled upon the magical world of ASMRs.

An abbreviation for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response, ASMR refers to a tingly, often pleasurable sensation felt by audiences. This sensation occurs as a result of certain “triggers” in response to certain sounds or visuals. From whispers that send shivers down your spine to tapping sounds that melt your stress away, ASMRs offer a multi-sensory feast.

Read on to understand how ASMR evolved from simple community discussion to becoming a source of comfort for more than 62% of people around the world!

The Origins of ASMR

Let’s travel back in time to 2010. Jennifer Allen, a Facebook group creator, coined the term "ASMR.” But what exactly was this phenomenon?

The shaping of early ASMR content creation can be attributed to early pioneers on YouTube like WhisperingLife, ASMR Darling and Gentle Whispering. It’s important to note that ASMR existed long before YouTube channels, and was quite popular on online forums. Post 2010s was when ASMR really began to pick up pace in widespread media.

During this time, ASMR videos began their fair share of experimentation and incorporation- adding in slime sounds, binaural beats and even theme-coding. This essentially refers to ASMRs being recorded and conducted around a specific theme.

Pushing the boundaries of artistic mediums, creators were able to tap into the specific preferences of their viewers. Now, ASMRs have expanded to include virtual barbers and reality experiences.

Image Credit : Billetto Editorial on Unsplash

So, How did ASMR Gain Mainstream Popularity?

A majority of the rise in the popularity of ASMR can only be attributed to organic growth. Dedicated online communities along with the positive word-of-mouth were key factors in the popularity of ASMR.

Productions like the Netflix documentary, “Headspace Guide to Sleep” and podcasts like “Sleep With Me,” featured ASMR and its various forms. Coupled with coverage by major publications like The New York Times and BBC, ASMR soon began carving a spot for itself in mainstream media. The 2016s and further marked a time where celebrities like Emma Watson and Robert Pattinson began openly discussing ASMR and their experiences with it. This was another contributing factor in the rise of ASMRs with respect to mainstream media.

An overlooked factor however, is the accessibility and discoverability of these tools. Twitch, Reddit and YouTube are the three platforms that have been instrumental in the rise of ASMRs. Providing readily available and easily accessible ASMR streams as well as content, was also key in increasing the number of people engaging with the phenomenon.

ASMRs: The Cocktail of Neurotransmitters

Since we’ve got the popularity down, let’s delve into the exact reason why hordes of people resonated with such content. The psychological explanation for this goes as follows :

When you listen to an ASMR, your brain unknowingly assumes the role of a bartender. With the efficiency of someone ten years into the role, your brain whips up a cocktail of dopamine, oxytocin and endorphins. These chemicals are associated with pleasure, bonding, trust and stress reduction.

This cocktail is known to not just have calming effects, but also aid creativity. The repetitive nature of certain triggers help quiet the mind and allow for a heightened level of concentration. However, a single sound isn’t for everyone!

Certain individuals show higher levels of productivity and concentration when listening to binaural beats while others have an affinity for the crinkling of paper. Communities like r/asmr on Reddit, or a simple YouTube search can aid you in finding the ASMRs of your choice.

Image Credit : Jez Timms on Unsplash

The Interlaced Weave of ASMR in Internet Culture

Shaping artistic expression, representation and community building, ASMR has slowly but steadily woven itself into the fabric of Internet culture. From the perspective of a creator, ASMR has fostered engagement spreading across various niches- from role playing to stimulating home settings. ASMR isn’t just restricted to the sound, it mentally transports listeners into the place of their choice and engages all the senses of the human body.

Live streams of ASMR tend to create a more personalised experience for listeners as enjoyers of a certain genre of ASMRs tend to gravitate towards each other. This is crucial in the role of community building, an aspect that goes beyond passive content being pushed out.

ASMR is kept dynamic and relevant through the various trends and challenges it inspires. The circulation of these online trends tend to reel in and attract new audiences. Lo-fi and wellness spheres have incorporated the use of ASMR, amongst various Internet communities as well.


To conclude, the rise and increasing impact of ASMR is a testament to the bonds formed by human beings through shared tastes and experiences. In a global economy that tends to be dominated by the visual, ASMRs provide a sense of virtual comfort and self-expression.

What types of ASMRs do you prefer?

Nikitha Mahesh
5,000+ pageviews

Nikitha is an avid writer. She is passionate about the intersection of creativity, business and economics.