ASMR and the Bizarre World of Whisperers

ASMR – Fascinating but beyond my comprehension.

Ever get that feeling that you’re not getting through to someone? They’re just not understanding you? Isn’t it obvious? Well no, not always.

Whispering breeze & tinkle of beads.

Whispering breeze & tinkle of beads.

Okay here’s the obligatory, obvious statement… “Everyone sees the world differently”, depending on the multitude of factors which have made them up. It’s easy enough to ‘get it’ that we’re different when it comes to cultural or societal conditioning. We understand the type of change in our understanding as we’ve grown and matured from one part of out life to the next. It’s called experience and education but we don’t change the way we fundamentally think. How we think seems to be at our core personality and seems locked for life and if we can’t see change in us, it’s too easy to believe our way of thinking is the same as everyone’s. What we’re only just starting to really get a grip on is the different ways in which mentally stable people think and perceive the world.

The new lands of the whisperers.

Recently while on #HumanBrochure in Canberra I meet some YouTubers who bemused me. Videos of young women showing their morning make-up routine or what they’ve been doing in their daily life, like unpacking their shopping.

What’s going on here? How could anyone be interested in this guff? But looking at the download numbers and followers I thought something’s happening I’m not aware of. It does take all types to make up this world.

Then to take it a step further, I heard A Tribe Called Rest (have a listen to this to start to get a grasp of what’s going on), on This American Life – Tribes, about what I eventually discovered as ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response).

Undoubtedly this has been around forever but ASMR has only recently surfaced to the mainstream due to the popularity of videos catering for those who love the experiences associated with the stimuli (or ‘triggers’ as they’re called) of ASMR. YouTube is full of Whispers caressing the viewer with imaginary play, self-affirming statements, fiddling with jewelry or making interesting sounds that tinkle, pop, squeak and crinkly, all for the pleasure of the listener. Binaural recordings add a depth to the experience as the Whisperer aurally caresses you intimately through your headphones.

Put on some headphones and listen to this video to grasp a little of what ASMR people appreciate.

New research.

There is still much research to be done on ASMR with plans for fMRI scans of people as they experience the goose bump, titillating arousal which can be induced. It needs to be noted that this is not sexual but reports state the pleasure of the ASMR experience is every bit as intense and often referred to as Head/Brain Orgasms.

Much like synaesthesia until the 1990’s, ASMR isn’t as yet recognised but I’m sure in time there will be some understanding of what’s going on as the research develops.

I don’t get it, but that doesn’t matter.

After watching some of these videos and having picked my jaw up from the floor, I realised the importance of what I’ve just seen.

I had no comprehension people could perceive the world in this way, but they probably can’t perceive the world the way I see it either. We’re all trapped in our own paradigm and there is no way to appreciate how others understand their world. The best we can do is maybe understand a little by taking the time to appreciate the wonder of what others experience, realise we can’t go there but they know a world different to us.

The ASMR people know something I don’t. It’s not better or worse, just different and if I take the time to wonder at what they’re fascinated with, maybe, just maybe, I can appreciate the world is not the same as it is for me and very different for everyone else.

We’re different and communicating across these boundaries of our differences requires us to put in some effort. It’s not about me and putting my attitudes onto you. It’s about me understanding how you are and appreciating your different ways of existing compared to that which I know. And that makes my life richer 🙂

Here is a good outsiders view of what ASMR and who Whisperers are.

{ 2 comments… add one }
  • Sandra 6 May, 2013, 8:35 PM

    ASMR – it’s very intriguing, it reminds me a bit of Tai Chi where the focus is on the movement, the quiet – it almost has a meditative quality to it – you shut out everything else while you focus. It’s not really for me but I can see how it might be for others ……

    • Ian 6 May, 2013, 9:57 PM

      I think we all have a little of this in us. It’s just some people have it failed up to 11.


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