ASMR Happens: Part 3
This is the final blog post in a series about ASMR Happens, a live event which recently took place in San Francisco. The event was hosted by Whisperlodge, a group which operates an ASMR spa in New York City. The featured ASMRtist of the evening was Emma who performs under the name WhispersRed ASMR on YouTube. In addition, the ASMRtist SelinaDeVestige was present at the event, assisting attendees and performing in a dual trigger session with Emma. The event was intimate, limited to 230 people, and took place at the Brava Theatre which has a rich tradition of showcasing the work of women, people of color, youth, LGBTQIA, and other underrepresented voices.
The performance was over, and the house lights softly brightened. People began removing their headphones, gathering belongings, and slowly making their way to the lobby. A hushed silence remained, as we all attempted to rouse ourselves from the languid state of relaxation we had fallen into. Once in the lobby, conversational circles formed and people began to discuss the experience. I took a seat on the periphery, and started chatting with a woman I’d originally met in line outside the theatre. We were both still trying to process our experience, and excited about the prospect of meeting Emma who was going to be joining all of us in the lobby shortly.
Our conversation quickly turned to the unique sense of community we felt that evening. We were both used to experiencing ASMR in solitude, with only the YouTube comment section for company. She remarked that no one in her real life knew she watched ASMR videos, and she wasn’t aware of anyone in her immediate circle who watched. Like so many aficionados of ASMR, her love of it was a secret she held close, afraid others would misunderstand or label her odd. We shared our mutual desire that ASMR would become more mainstream, and celebrated the small strides in that direction including the recent IKEA advert. We then began discussing our favourite channels, and shared our ASMR triggers with one another. It was such a joy to be with someone who shared my affinity for this beautiful art form.
Eventually, the discussion turned once again to community. It was a theme heavily on my mind that evening. I had been inspired by the group trigger activity we all performed earlier, and by the concept of self-soothing. From my volunteer work with mental health support organisations, I knew how important community was for psychological health, as well as physical health. A 2010 meta-analysis of 148 other studies showed that not only do social connections help us to survive health problems, but the lack of them can actually cause health issues. The researchers concluded that “…the influence of social relationships on the risk of death are comparable with well-established risk factors for mortality such as smoking and alcohol consumption and exceed the influence of other risk factors such as physical inactivity and obesity”. In other words, community is important. I began asking the question, how could we grow the ASMR community, bring it more into the mainstream, and start to recreate this amazing group experience for people.
Have any of you ever been to a Meetup? I have, loads of them. As a whole foods vegan living in cities that are not very vegan friendly, Meetups have been a refuge for me. A way to find community and connect with people of similar values and interests. Have any of you ever participated in a book club? I’ve done that too. Another great way to turn a traditionally solitary activity (reading) into a social one, and connect with people who share a similar interest. What if we began forming ASMR clubs or ASMR Meetups? A chance to connect with others in real life who share our affinity for ASMR, and to start building a tangible community.
I envision a group that meets on a regular basis, each member bringing a different trigger object to the gathering. Maybe one night someone would read softly to the group, another night people could take turns doing a show and tell with their objects. People could whisper to one another, talk softly about their day. They could even watch YouTube videos together, projecting it onto a large screen, then discussing it afterwards. The possibilities are limited only by the participants’ imaginations. The results would be beautiful, and mimic the incredible outcome of ASMR Happens - connection, comfort, tingles. All of these possibilities were racing through my mind when I spotted Emma entering the lobby.
She stood for the next hour or more, offering hugs to anyone who approached her, talking briefly with everyone who wanted to meet her, and posing for endless selfies with people. She was incredibly gracious and generous through it all, a beautiful smile on her face the entire time. I was one of the last people to speak with her at the end of the evening. I had debated all night about revealing my identity to her as a fellow artist, since I work under a pseudonym and don’t show my face on my channel. I finally decided the opportunity was too special, and what I wanted to say to her needed to have that context, so I bravely moved forward.
I will say again what I shared with her in person. Her work as an ASMRtist has inspired me in countless ways professionally, and soothed me in countless ways personally. I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to attend an ASMR Happens live event, and the creative energy I received from that continues to manifest itself. I also want to say how grateful I am to have met many of the other attendees, and to have participated in the community we created together that evening. ASMR Happened that night, and it can happen again if we choose to make it so.