It's the tingling sensation on the back of your scalp or on your neck when you hear certain subtle sounds: Like a whisper, or the soft drumming of nails against glass, or the lighting of a match – even the soothing voice of the late painter Bob Ross.
ASMR, or "autonomous sensory meridian response," has been around for a decade, but finally made its way into the mainstream with a Michelob Ultra commercial during the Super Bowl Sunday night. The ad featured actress Zoe Kravitz whispering softly into a microphone, tapping her nails against the bottle, all to get us to buy some beer.
It's a big trend right now, and there are countless videos on YouTube of people whispering directly into microphones and tapping their fingers on things to try and stimulate an ASMR response for viewers.
since thousands of faithful followers online. Content creators on YouTube, for example, upload hours-long videos of them stroking the cameras lens with makeup brushes, drawing with crayons, drumming their fingers against leather and creating other similar things that users claim help them sleep and calm down.
Everyone's triggers are different: some may be satisfied with the sound of a page turning, others from a laugh – and others may not experience ASMR at all.
So yes, a lot of people find ASMR relaxing. Others find it horrifying. Or at the very least it freaks them out, like the Michelob Ultra ad featuring Kravitz did
It's not Kravitz that's the problem, it's just that ASMR is not for everyone! For every person who gets to the sound of someone rubbing Velcro or sipping from a beer bottle, there's someone else who thinks ASMR feels like being haunted by a very quiet ghost with no sense of personal space.