For my news feature, I’d like to explore the world of ASMR (autonomous sensory meridian response) and its (supposed) stress-relieving benefits in the uncertain period of the coronavirus pandemic.
According to Professor Craig Richard at Shenandoah University who runs an online archive called ASMR University, ASMR is a feeling of comfort. These sensations can be physical (such as pleasurable tingling or fuzziness in the head, neck, and/or arms) and psychological (such as feelings of calmness, sleepiness, or relaxation). They can be stimulated by different triggers like whispering, water sounds, tapping, or facial expressions.
YouTube has become a huge platform for ASMR videos. According to a feature by The New York Times, there are approximately 500 new ASMR videos uploaded per day. Some of the most popular videos are ‘roleplays’ that include spa treatments and doctors appointments. The key to these videos is the aspect of personal attention to you, the listener/ viewer.
Here’s a video of Ally, also known as ASMRrequests, in a 39-minute spa appointment video:
At this stage, you might be wondering-
Why is this timely or relevant?
A 2018 mental health report by Black Dog Institute revealed that close to one in four Australians experience some kind of mental health concerns. In the last month of social distancing and self-isolation due to the coronavirus, there have been worries that this may have been exacerbated.
Even the Australian government has recognised these concerns, having proposed a National Health Plan “to support the mental health and well-being of Australians” in these unprecedented times.
While there has been some academic research into the benefits of ASMR, health benefits that have identified include stress relief, inducing sleep for insomniacs, and helping those with depression.
In the stressful times of COVID-19, I’d like to explore – are people turning to ASMR for comfort?
Where could it be published?
My chosen publication is Vice, a youth-focused digital platform. Because of its target millennial audience, they are known to publish articles on topics that would typically be called quirky or unusual. I think a news feature on ASMR videos would fit nicely into this metric.
Moreover, they have an affinity to multimedia pieces, for which videos of ASMR would work wonderfully.
So how is it going to read?
In terms of structure, I’d like to begin with an introduction of ASMR. Then I’d like to answer my question by talking to three groups: ASMRtists (as these performers are known), listeners, and researchers/ psychologists who can provide some insight into the popularity of this fad.
I would also like to address a common belief that ASMR intended to be titillating. Prof. Richard of ASMR University has compared ASMR to oil, saying that it can heighten sexual moments but that it isn’t sexual in itself. Do ASMRtists, psychologists/ researchers, and listeners agree?
And how would it look?
Apart from including interviews and research, I would like to include multimedia like YouTube videos of different kinds of triggers and audio clips.