I was walking by our oldest daughter's bedroom one night after work many years ago and heard someone whispering. I opened the door and saw her asleep but her laptop was open on her desk and a woman on the screen was whispering into a mic and occasionally, tapping her long fingernails on the mic. I thought it was a bit creepy and made a mental note to ask my daughter about it the next day. As it turns out, she was on the edge of a trend in whisper videos that 8 years later have become very popular and formed an internet ASMR sub-culture.
If you're new to the whisper game, the videos are also known as ASMR or Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response. ASMR is a made up name, not scientific, but its in the lexicon now as a descriptor of these whisper videos that people use to relax and even fall asleep. The genre has expanded from whispering to tapping, role playing massage or eye exams, crinkling of various kinds of papers, gently striking glass or metal...basically, audio in practically every form. ASMR has been lauded by celebrities who've made their own videos, like Cardi B and mocked by shows like Tosh.0. (this link may not be appropriate for all audiences). The whisper community will make its presence known during the Superbowl this year with a new ad featuring Zoe Kravitz.
In the ad, Kravitz is sitting on an outdoor audio stage pouring a beer and whispering into two mics in the binaural style used by ASMR creators. (Binaural recording is a method of recording sound that uses two microphones, arranged with the intent to create a 3-D stereo sound sensation for the listener.)
The science is still undecided but millions of people swear by ASMR to help them relax and even fall asleep. Many even say they feel a tingling sensation in their scalp or faces when they listen to the videos. Because I go to sleep to be bright-eyed for the KFBK Morning News, I regularly use ASMR to drift off to sleep. One of my favorite ASMR-artists is Whispers Red. She will be a guest on my podcast next month.
So what do you think? Creepy? Relaxing? Would you give it a try? I'd love your thoughts.