UT students look to ASMR for relaxation, entertainment

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Photo Credit: Eddie Gaspar

From tingle-inducing taps on sound boxes to “mouth sounds,” autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR) content has become a prominent part of many students’ lives.

ASMR is characterized by soothing sensations known as “tingles” that participants experience as a result of auditory stimuli such as faint whispering, clicking or scratching. The experience has become increasingly popular through social media platforms, including YouTube and Snapchat, where students watch videos or listen to sounds that many say are not simply entertaining, but soothing.

English senior Katherine Pound learned about ASMR through friends and eventually started watching it on Snapchat. Pound said she now uses it to help her relax.

“(I use it) to sleep and to study,” Pound said. “Right before bed, I flip through an (ASMR) Snapchat story, or if I’m chilling on the couch for a second I’ll watch a couple of videos. There’s something incredibly soothing about the sounds.”

ASMR enthusiasts refer to the feeling they get from this content as “tingles” because they are felt primarily in the head and down the spine, producing a sense of deep relaxation. While Pound primarily uses Snapchat to watch ASMR videos and calm herself, some students rely on YouTube.

Government sophomore Rachel Wolleben said she subscribes to channels such as “ASMRrequests,” “ASMRtists” and more. Wolleben said there is a diverse array of ASMR videos on YouTube to accommodate viewers’ interests, which from meditation-oriented videos to roleplay.

“There’s a ton of different subgenres within ASMR that are really cool,” Wolleben said. “I like listening to ones where it’s people whispering and talking about random stuff. Some (videos) are ASMR roleplays, so it’ll be someone pretending to give you a haircut or something, and they have cool haircut sounds.”

UT students are among these content creators. Chemistry sophomore Fernanda Aguilera began making ASMR videos last summer after she found solace in many ASMR YouTube channels during her freshman year.

“I was living in Jester in a room with two other people,” Aguilera said. “It was hard because obviously everyone has different schedules (and) my sleeping schedule suffered so much. I was trying to find things that could help me fall asleep faster, and a lot of people said ASMR was super relaxing, so I tried it. I loved (ASMR) and was fascinated by it. That fascination made me want to create my own little ASMR channel.”

Aguilera said one of her goals in creating her channel was to just be herself. One video consists of her eating Chick-fil-A and whispering into the microphone.

“I had watched so many videos of people that helped me go to sleep and relaxed me, so I was like, ‘I want to do that for people, but I wanted to be myself,’” Aguilera said. “In (the Chick-fil-A video) I play with the napkin and dip my fries in the sauce near the mic, and it’s just really funny.”

ASMR often faces criticism, but Aguilera said she has yet to experience this. She said she isn’t worried about people who aren’t fans of ASMR.

“At the end of the day, I know that I like what I do,” Aguilera said. “I don’t really care if someone thinks it’s weird or silly.”