Well, maybe. Actually, scientists aren’t completely sure. It’s a mouthful to say and defines one of the strangest viral phenomenons on Instagram and YouTube: Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (or ASMR). Also known as a “brain orgasm,” ASMR occurs when a relaxing, soothing tingling at the back of the head or neck happens in response to certain stimuli. This stimulus has been reported, and sworn to create delight, by the internet community for months now. Scientists have yet to figure out if the sensation is a true physical response but agree that it may be real based on the number of individuals reporting the phenomenon and slime videos.
The stimulus that produces this response is usually described as soothing, relaxing, and calming. Oddly, there is no single stimulus that produces this response, and not everyone experiences the ASMR the same way. The popular go-to videos, in order to experience this response, are slime videos. Viewers claim that watching the slime ooze is very calming and pleasurable. However, ASMR can also be triggered by hearing paper crinkle, fingers tap on wood, or people whispering.
Some videos, however, may not be pleasing to all viewers. Suspected to produce the ASMR as well, popping videos have also gone viral. These are not, however, videos about delicious popcorn being popped. Popping videos usually involve the bursting, rupture, or eruption of cysts, boils, pimples, or blackheads. There are other equally tasty-sounding protrusions that appear in these videos (like unclogging some very dirty bellybuttons), but let’s not ruin lunch. When it comes to popping videos, users claim that watching blackheads pop out or cysts erupt gives them a sensation of relief. Further, some viewers say that watching the process can be hypnotizing, with many going on an endless journey, deep into the ASMR hole.
Now, as a general warning, the following video is NOT SAFE FOR LUNCH (NSFL).
ASMR should not, however, be confused with frission, even thought both sensations cannot be fully explained by scientists. Frission, or skin orgasms (see the difference?), causes shivers to erupt across the skin in response to music. Scientists that have studied frission have noted that the response usually occurs during specific measures in a musical piece. The clash of dissonant notes, volume leaps and melodic changes are more likely to cause frission. Anticipation, according to scientists, may also play a key role in producing the frission response. When we listen to music, we can become aware of the patterns and predictable measures of the piece. However, when this predictability is interrupted by, let’s say, the bass suddenly dropping in the middle of the piece, the brain delights in the change. This then leads to the frission response. There are other reasons as to why people experience frission, but much like ASMR, there is no clear, singular cause as to why humans respond this way.
Regardless, the popularity of these phenomena has grown in the past few years. There are many YouTube and Instagram videos dedicated to producing these responses. As long as users continue to seek out these skin and brain orgasm, slime will continue to ooze, the bass will drop, and pimples shall be popped.
Featured photo by Jason Graham