171 – Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR)


Boy, it’s been a long week. Who knew covering a film festival could be so exhausting? I don’t know how the professionals do it. Just kidding, that would be the best job in world. But it is tiring, especially after full work days. So while there’s a few things I’m hoping to see in theaters this weekend, I decided to just kick back and relax tonight. And what better way to relax than with autonomous sensory meridian response.

What’s that? You don’t know what autonomous sensory meridian response is? That’s fair. Neither did I before today. Well I knew what it was, but I didn’t know there was a name for it. Let’s back up. Have you ever had that soothing, tingly feeling on the back of your head, or neck, or down your spine? You know, that really nice one? That’s autonomous sensory meridian response. There are all kinds of triggers – a haircut might do it for you, or soothing speech, or even focused attention. Autonomous sensory meridian response (alright, we’ll call it ASMR moving forward) is not a universal experience, which is unfortunate because it is pretty pleasant.

I found out about ASMR on one of my favorite podcasts, Never Not Funny. On episode 1413 from April 30th, co-host Matt Belknap describes the phenomenon, and host Jimmy Pardo’s reaction was just like mine – Holy crap, there’s been a name for this the whole time and I had no idea. ASMR is something I never really thought that much about, but there have been communities built around what was originally known as “the unnamed feeling” for years.

So there are people who make it their business to replicate ASMR through YouTube videos. And these things are weird. Most of the videos consist of attractive women talking very softly with smiles pasted on their face. I tried a few out after work, as ASMR is allegedly an effective sleep aid and I needed a nap. I was a little put off by the videos, which seemed a more fetishized than necessary. ASMR is not an erotic sensation, so some of these videos were more creepy than anything else.

In the end, YouTube was not able to trigger ASMR in me, though I did take a 3 hour nap – I think the nap was just more of a physical necessity at this point. My vivid memories of ASMR are associated with books, so maybe I’ll be able to refine my search for stimuli in the future, but it is still cool to learn that you are part of a community you had no idea existed. My only worry? Now that I know ASMR is a thing, I’ll never get that feeling again. My body often likes to do things out of spite. It’s possibly related to the time I cut my nose off to spite my face; my body never got over that.

And with that bit of nonsense, I leave you for the night. I have to go watch a woman of indeterminate nationality pretend to give me a haircut. I guess this is my life now.

One thought on “171 – Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR)

  1. Your discovery of ASMR was just like mine. I heard it described on a podcast and also went, “there is a name for that relaxing feeling I get from haircuts?!” Great closing paragraph 🙂

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