ASMR and Comment Pushback
Mary Catherine Lawler
ASMR, an acronym for autonomous sensory meridian response, is a scientifically unfounded phenomenon described by the YouTube community as experiencing “tingles,” or having physical sensations of tingling in different parts of the body. The goal of this audio-visual content is to enact relaxation and to combat anxiety, panic attacks, insomnia, depression, and insecurity, along with other mental health issues, and it comes in various forms, such as role-play (visit to the doctor, caring friend, spa) and specific “trigger” videos that employ particular sounds or visuals to “trigger” ASMR in the viewer, always including a form of personal attention (eye contact with the camera, having a “conversation” with the viewer.
Recently, a new ASMRtist has begun posting videos, calling herself Bella ASMR (most ASMRtists operate under a “pen name”). Her videos, while somewhat pubescent in humor and content (see “Friend with Weed Roleplay”), are also lighthearted and sweet. Much of the community surrounding ASMR can be supportive and encouraging, leaving messages of gratitude for others’ creativity and attentiveness, but many others, commonly known as “trolls”, write hurtful insults and threats, armored behind a wall of internet anonymity.
Only one week into posting videos, Bella ASMR uploaded a video entitled “Not ASMR – Being a Human (People and Hurtful Comments)” in which she addresses both the comments themselves, by which she reads them aloud, almost in tears, and then provides a verbal response to get her feelings off of her chest.
(Update: This video has been removed by the user since I wrote this post. Her channel can be found here.)
In this video, she reads – to name just a few – rape threats (“where can I dump your body?”), racial slurs (“ape face”), and misogynist insults (“whore”, “slut”, “nice tits, bitch”).
While this is an acknowledgement of these comments and in some ways a concession to the “trolls”, it is also a great way for Bella ASMR to reclaim and stand her internet ground, responding to and directly addressing the nonsensical and cruel nature of these insults.