As a “new media specialist,” Still Water Co-Director Jon Ippolito gets called upon to explain plenty of weird Internet memes. But this Public Radio story on the tingling sensation known as ASMR has got to be one of the most bizarre.
It’s not clear who came up with the term, or its definition. Jon Ippolito, a new media specialist at the University of Maine, described it like this: “Sound induced scalp-orgasms, right? This tingling sensation in your head and shoulders and down your back when you hear certain kinds of sounds, or when you watch particular activities, like people doing a task that they’ve done many times before.”
ASMR is also described as a feeling of extreme tranquility, along with the trademark “head tingles’ and “spine tingles.” The variety of these videos existing on YouTube is surprising, ranging from people’s favorite Bob Ross moments to videos of people tapping quietly on a desk, chewing gum, the sounds of whispering, unwrapping crinkly packages, and role-playing a variety of scenarios, from trips to the hair dresser to filling out passport applications.
“And I went on YouTube to try this, of course, and the top one was someone with a brush, a plastic brush. A woman sort of scrubbing her fingernails across it making a clickety, clickety sound,” Ippolito said. “And the YouTube comments were all, like, Wow, that’s a amazing! Aw, blew my mind. And I was, like, Okay…not getting anything.”
Ippolito may not be getting anything, but plenty of others are. A YouTube search on ASMR brings up more than 16,000 results….
The unexpected enrichment of people’s lives through videos like these produced by the ASMR community, and a platform on which strangers can share the human experience, is the Internet at its best, said Jon Ippolito at the University of Maine.
“The specialty seems to be so idiosyncratic, almost genetic, that’s it’s unlikely that you’d find any more folks like that in your backyard. That’s where the Internet’s power really comes in, because all you have to do is put out a search query, or post something to a message forum and suddenly all these people may respond. We’ve seen it in Arab Spring, where entire governments have been toppled thanks to social networks like Twitter and Facebook.”
He said the ASMR community is just another example of how people are no longer bound by a “top down” delivery of information. Now he said, the real power lies in the ability of solitary people to find and connect with someone just like them, regardless of where they are, and how isolated they may feel.
Meanwhile, on the cover of the September 5th Bangor Daily News is a story that touts the strengths of a collaboration involving Still Water’s Joline Blais, Belfast Cohousing & Ecovillage:
Susie Capwell said that she was in active labor on the family’s moving day. Though the neighbors joked that she was just trying to get out of moving boxes, they all helped out.
“I went into labor, and our friends came,” she said. “They brought trucks, trailers, a U-Haul. They moved us in about 45 minutes. And everyone brought us meals for about three weeks. It was amazing. I don’t think we could have done it otherwise.”
Last weekend, the community came together again to help members Lindsey and Allison Piper move into their home. Current residents are excited to see the neighborhood expand.
“It’s very stimulating, to have all these ages, and all these people,” Margie Shannon said. “Much better than all old people.”