Molly Kendrick writes Contemptible Impudence, a blog about freelance writing. she hosts yeah no yeah podcast with co-host katie brandt.

Hey Baby, Wanna Tingle? NSFW ASMR

Hey Baby, Wanna Tingle? NSFW ASMR

Have you heard of ASMR?

The Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response phenomenon is becoming a highly-specialized corner of YouTube, with its own lingo and stars. 

What's a meridian?

Please try to be more mystical and intuitive. You're kind of embarrassing yourself. 

What we do know is that the term "ASMR" was invented by Redditors to describe the pleasant sensation that some people experience when they hear gentle noises — common examples include the crinkles of tissue paper, swishing water, and the white noise of hair brushing. Others report that instead of tingles, they feel lightly hypnotized. In either case, the result is intense, inexplicable relaxation.

Before you draw any more conclusions, give it a real chance. "*_* Oh such a good 3D-sound ASMR video *_*" is one of the most-viewed ASMR videos on the internet, by YouTube's top ASMRtist, Gentle Whispering. She has over a million subscribers and 300 million + views on her channel, and in the YouTube world that equals a whole bunch of cha-ching from ad revenue. She has appeared in multiple articles on the ASMR phenomenon, including one in the New York Times

Gentle Whispering has a soft, Russian accent and even softer blonde tresses. Her fans fill the comment section with praise for her kindly ways, her radiant soul, and her perfect nails. It's recommended that you wear your headphones for the full effect. Once you're plugged up, have a listen:

In the comments sections of videos, fans often discuss the importance of "spreading awareness" of the "ASMR community," like it's an important disease. Not much research has been done on the subject, but hopefully that will change soon! Drop what you're doing, scientists. People are TINGLING, tingling HARD.  And we want to know WHY. The fact that they call themselves a "community," really rubs me the wrong way — do they think they're a marginalized group? Do they have to hide who they are from their families? 

To be fair,  ASMR embarrassment is prevalent. I've seen people mention that when someone else walks in the room, they quickly shut the laptop, as though they had been caught watching porn. 

I can't shake the suspicion that the tinglers may have brought this on themselves. People unfamiliar with ASMR immediately pick up on the fact that the terminology around these videos is pretty fetish-y. Many ASMR videos have "role play" in the title. Some common role plays include hairdressers, doctors performing a cranial exams, and masseuses.  And, for the especially lonely soldier, the "girlfriend roleplay." 

In this wholesome "Sleepy Time" video, the ASMR siren croons, "So glad you're here, so we could cuddle and talk. Your body is so warm and soft. I just love feeling your skin against mine. Such a nice, calming feeling."


How could anyone possible object to this soothing bosom? By all means, watch it at work. Tell your co-workers that you need it to help with your anxiety — after all, your health plan is only so comprehensive. Blast it through the loudspeakers for extra calm. 

If you spend enough time being weird on the Internet, you'll notice even more crossover with the fetish corner of YouTube.

This is an ASMR video.

This is a fetish video. 


In spite of this overlap, the fastest way to annoy an ASMR viewer is to imply there's anything sexual in the ASMR video. Most ASMR-tists are women, and naturally the most successful channels have attractive hosts. Many are accused of sexiness, and, even more alarmingly, of being sexy on purpose — the greatest sin of all. As a rule, they reject this interpretation, but they can't stop their male viewers from proclaiming their erections.

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Many fans of ASMR feel deeply irked by these types of comments. "ASMR has nothing to do with sex!" They proclaim. "It's just relaxation!"

Further frustrating the guardians of ASMR purity, some cam girls use ASMR channels as a way to direct traffic to their sites. Hungry Lips is one of the most popular. Comments on her videos critique her tarnishing of the "ASMR community."

HungryLips YouTube videos link to a website where you can buy "personal videos." Her channel features videos that recreate the offer a full suite of girlfriend experiences, including "waking up with me." In this age-restricted video, she tells her listener, "I had a great time last night, you really know what you're doing."   

You can feel the outrage billowing from the comment section. 

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In the rest of the ASMR community, it goes without saying that some people like the sound of scissors cutting newspaper, while others crave the sounds of spindly fingers delicately tracing the spine of an old book. It stands to reason that ASMR, like beauty and sex appeal, is purely subjective. Why do so many commenters take it upon themselves to police what counts as ASMR? ASMR enthusiasts call for scientific analysis of the phenomenon, but can't conceive that the titanic membrane and erectile tissue might be more closely linked than previously thought. For people who throw around words like "tingles" and "braingasms," they're surprisingly uptight.   

When I first assembled my gallery of ASMR videos, I looked for someone who had never seen an ASMR video before to get their hot take. I asked my roommate at the time to watch Gentle Whispering's "Such a Good 3-D Sound" video.

Twenty seconds in, she looked at me, her eyes wide. "I feel so tingly," she said, "in my chest. I just want to curl up into a ball and go to sleep. Does this mean I have a fetish?" she asked, her eyes simultaneously glazed-over and alarmed. She continued to stare. "I really like it, but I feel weird about it," she concluded.

It is weird, but don't let shame rule over you. Watch your favorite ASMR videos alone, with the curtains drawn, when you feel relatively certain no one will walk in on you. And afterward, remember to delete your history. We all think you're a pervert.



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