Techarm – Part 3 – A shiver down the spine – ASMR – All You want to know about it

A shiver down the spine! But this time it is only pleasant. Yes, that is exactly what I have come here to discuss today. And as always it involves tech-talk with human beings at the center. If you have been following my TechArm series you know what I am writing about already. But in case you have missed reading the previous installments of this series, do check out my blog and read them. Long story short, I am writing on how to keep your mind intact during a lockdown like we are experiencing now in this COVID 19 pandemic.

We live in a world crisscrossed by streaking lights, billowing sounds, myriad smells and tastes, and the touch of things metallic and non-metallic, hot and cold and everything in between. The human sensory perception made up of the five sensory organs – eyes, ears, nose, tongue, and skin – helps us create a meaningful image of the three dimensions that surround us. There are some sensations – stimuli, in scientific lingo – that we cherish while there are some we detest. And then there are some sensations that cause sensory overloads and can flip the switch off inside our heads. Yet, there are those rare stimuli we cherish but don’t quite understand.

Have you heard of the term ASMR? Chances are No! Let me put it in another way. Has someone ever run his/her fingers through your hair or gently pulled his/her fingers down your back like a feather touching your skin? If yes then you have experienced something you cannot quite describe in words. It is ecstasy but not orgasm. It is pure pleasure but un-describable. It is bliss with the goosebumps and it is mesmerizing. This is exactly what ASMR is. Now the scientists will have you memorize the expanded name for this sensation – Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response, in short ASMR. They will also want you to understand another related term – Frisson. Frisson in simple words means aesthetic chills or musical chills. Confused?

I’ll help you understand the whole thing. There are some songs or tunes that leave a lasting magnetic impression in our minds. There seems to be something in them that gives us the chills but it is not like shivering in cold or out of sheer fright. These chills – otherwise known as Frisson – cause us Euphoria and we want to stay in that zone forever. These tunes coupled with the associated Frisson transport us to our happy place. A notable side effect is the tingling sensation of running fingers on our scalp and down the spine! This is what ASMR is, in layman’s terms. Got it? I hope so!

ASMR is the buzz word in the human-centric tech domain now. As the human population expands at an exponential rate every second, we cram into erstwhile desolate corners of the globe looking for a liveable place. The competition for resources becomes increasingly toothy by the second and the coarse sandpaper of distaste rubs against our minds every now and then. The general bad feeling of living in an inexorably fast world has squeezed our minds into boxes of infinitesimal dimensions, otherwise known as stress. And stress means depression. This is where ASMR comes in. The tech world has discovered the obvious connection between sound and ASMR. What would you describe as stress-causing sounds? Let me help you with a few examples:

  • Email and message notifications
  • The sudden blaring of mobile phone
  • Cars whizzing past
  • Honking

What would you describe as soothing sounds?

  • The soft voice of a favorite narrator
  • A soft instrumental music
  • A whisper
  • Crinkling wrappers
  • Chewing of candy as it crackles in the mouth
  • Cracking soda cans
  • Soft whining of machines in a mill
  • A child laughing in the distance
  • Crickets creaking in the background
  • A storm cloud growling somewhere
  • Rain tapping down on the earth

The list goes on and on! These soothing sounds coupled with appropriate videos act as what scientists call ASMR triggers, and can help us unwind really fast often putting us to much-needed sleep. In fact, YouTube and Facebook are flooded these days with videos titled “Incredibly relaxing video on…” or “I want to relax”. The other stat that will hit you hard is that ASMR related keywords are the highest searched ones on YouTube and Google, far more than any other keyword. In fact, ASMR has become the undisputed ruler of search trends without people even knowing it! There’s a hot trend you never heard of probably! A whole genre of artists now rules the roost on YouTube. They are known as ASMR-artists. Content creators like Heather Feather have millions of subscribers and more such content is added every second on YouTube. While this paints a very sad picture of the malady of stress, the obvious panacea is a revelation. These days commercial content creators have begun riding the wave. Less sound is more impactful – that is what the Ad Gurus will have you believe.

Coming to the point, ASMR content can keep together all the pieces of a brittle mind in times of incredible stress. If you believe that the lockdown is playing with your mind you can check out the following ASMR Apps.

Super Slime Simulator: Carrying a cool 4.5 rating on Google Play Store, this one is the king of ASMR content. This App has lots of games on stretching slimes; not the smelly kind, but the pleasing, colorful kind! The more time you spend stretching the virtual viscous goo, the more relaxed you become. Try it! I have, and I know it helps in those long and sleepless nights.

TeasEar: This is another ASMR triggering app designed around the slime stretching games concept. It carries a cool 4.3 rating on Google Play Store.

Oddly Satisfying ASMRtist!: This one is kind of a confluence of various ASMRtists and their works. You get to enjoy the creations of various artists and unwind in the process. For people interested in variety, this one fits the bill. It carries a humble 4 rating on Google Play Store. But it is more than meets the eye. Try it to know better!

With this, I come to the end of my series on arming yourself with Technology during the COVID 19 lockdown. But there is still so much more to discuss and write about! I hope to pick up where I am leaving now in the near future and then we can revel at the marvels of the tech world once again together!

Cheers. Stay Safe.

About the author

Hirak D

Hirak D is a published author and Communication Coach from Durgapur, West Bengal, India. He is also a guest blogger at several media and publication houses with published articles on a wide variety of topics. As part of his profession, he teaches English to school and college students in his hometown. His particular areas of interest are human behavioral studies and the human oriented technology interface

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