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Monday, November 6, 2017

Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response

     The other day I read about something called Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR) which is a You Tube phenomenon with over 9.6 million videos. 
     Some people claim it gives them “braingasms” and tingling sensations in their heads and necks.  Five percent of those studied in a Swansea University study claimed they get sexually stimulated watching them. Most of the videos on You Tube feature people doing rather mundane things, but quite a few feature things like shaves and haircuts for men and applying makeup and doing hair for women.  Head massages seem popular, too.
     ASMR is a term used for an experience characterized by a static-like or tingling sensation on the skin that typically begins on the scalp and moves down the back of the neck and upper spine. It has been compared with auditory-tactile synesthesia. ASMR signifies the subjective experience of "low-grade euphoria" characterised by "a combination of positive feelings and a distinct static-like tingling sensation on the skin". It is most commonly triggered by specific acoustic, visual and digital media stimuli.

Stimuli that can trigger ASMR include the following:
Listening to a softly spoken or whispering voice
Listening to quiet, repetitive sounds
Watching somebody attentively execute a mundane task
Loudly Chewing, Crunching, Slurping or Biting Foods, Drinks, or gum.
Receiving altruistic tender personal attention

     Watching and listening to an audiovisual recording of a person performing or simulating the above actions and producing their consequent and accompanying sounds is sufficient to trigger ASMR for the majority of those who report susceptibility to the experience. Apparently not everyone, myself included, is susceptible.
     Psychologists discovered that whispering was an effective trigger for 75 percent of the subjects who took part in an experiment. That explains why most of the You Tube videos I watch had people whispering to the point that headphones were required to hear what they were saying.
     Many of those who experience ASMR report that some specific non-vocal ambient noises are also effective triggers including those produced by fingers scratching or tapping a surface, the crushing of eggshells, the crinkling and crumpling of a flexible material such as paper, or writing. Many YouTube videos that are intended to trigger ASMR responses capture a single person performing these actions and sounds.
     Role playing is also an important part of many You Tube videos: hair cutting, applying makeup, head massages, nails painted, ears cleaned, or back massaged, all accompanied by quiet or ehispered speech. You Tube AMSR “artists” speak into the camera as if they were giving the viewer personal attention. This personal attention worked for 69 percent of those taking part in the study.
     Not surprisingly, for some viewers ASMR helps with inducing sleep for those susceptible to insomnia, and relieving symptoms such as those associated with depression, anxiety, and panic attacks.
     Some ASMR videos use binaural recording techniques to simulate the acoustics of a three dimensional environment. Binaural recording is a method of recording sound that uses two microphones, arranged to create a 3-D stereo sound sensation of actually being in the room. Some of the microphones come in the shape of a human ear with about the distance of a human head to achieve the desired effect and can cost upwards of $500.
     These recordings are made to be heard through headphones rather than speakers. When listening to sound through speakers, the left and right ear both hear the sound coming from the speaker. But when listening to sound through headphones, the sound from the left earpiece is audible only to the left ear, and the sound from the right ear piece is audible only to the right ear. When producing binaural media, the sound source is recorded by two separate microphones, placed at a distance comparable to that between two ears, and they are not mixed, but remain separate on the final medium. The result is a more realistic sound. The listener perceives being in close proximity to the performers and location of the sound source. Secondly, the listener perceives what is often reported as a three dimensional sound.
     Not everybody experiences ASMR. Researchers say that if you're not blown away by listening or if you only feel some vague sensation, then it's probably deep relaxation but not necessarily ASMR. Not everybody has the sensory wiring to have ASMR experiences.
     Creating an ASMR video isn't as simple as just filming. Complex videos take about three days to create as scripts with specific soothing words have to be written and the sounds to be incorprated have to be researched. Then testing has to be done on such things as microphone positioning and lighting levels. Then there's post production editing that needs to be done. This is important because one of the first ASMR videos I checked out on You Tube was done by a young girl with, obviously, no experience. It was funny because the lighting was such that you could see shadow of the camera and microphone on the wall behind her.
     But, why so many ASMR videos on You Tube? Because it is possible to make money on them.  Good ASMRtists, as they are called, can see subscriptions numbering in the hundreds of thousands, and views in the millions and many collect ad revenue,and accept donations through PayPal. One lady on You Tube has an estimated net worth of $420,000. Her channel’s content is basically just her whispering different things into a mic, but it has over 350 million views and gets an average of 350,000 views per day. This gives an estimated revenue of around $630 per day ($230,000 a year) from the ads that run on the videos. Of course, most You Tube ASMR videos don't make that kind of money, but they can get paid between $2 – $5 per 1000 views after YouTube takes its cut. That could add up to some extra spending money.

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