Somebody named “Heather Feather” is whispering at you verysoftly. She is also tapping gently and quietly on a fancy wine glass. And maybe you’re getting all tingly.
You went on YouTube innocently wanting to watch one of your favorite old Monty Python sketches about a guy going to a Travel Agent’s office, who then blabs on and on a mile a minute about tourists with Instamatic cameras drinking Watneys Red Barrel and complaining about the weather. But then YouTube lists a whole bunch of video viewing suggestions based on your search about people talking loudly and incessantly and you see one that says something like “The Miracle of the Close Whisper Tingling”, and since you are pathologically curious, you click on it.
And suddenly, you’ve entered the weird, incredibly quiet world of “ASMR.”
What is the blue blazes is “ASMR” you ask? Well so did I, and being pathologically curious I did extensive research by Googling for several minutes in a row. And then wouldn’t you know it, I was driving somewhere in my car and a program came on the Canadian Broadcorping Castration about – you guessed it – Justin Trudeau!
Just kidding, this program was after the 14 hours of programming on J.T. It was actually about “ASMR” and it involved a lengthy explanation of this “tingling phenomenon” and then a lot of very quiet whispering. So of course being somewhat hard of hearing due to too many years slamming away in rock bands I cranked up the radio and tried not to get all tingly whilst I was driving.
Turns out that ASMR stands for “Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response.” As described in various articles ASMR is “a term used for an experience characterized by a static-like or tingling sensation on the skin that typically begins on the scalp and moves down the back of the neck and upper spine.” It’s supposed to be healthy and relaxing and help you sleep and get less fussed about life in general. And now through the latest rapidly growing social media phenomenon this highly pleasurable tingly feeling is most often facilitated by a person (usually a female) (usually attractive) whispering very quietly.
The CBC show interviewed someone named Cathy who is one of the most popular professional whisperers, and since I couldn’t hear a darn thing she was whispering on the radio, I later thought I’d try to search her up on the Tube of You to see what on earth she was murmuring about.
I found old Cathy all right. Under the moniker “Gentle Whispering ASMR” she has, um, a “few” followers. The first video I checked out has, um, over 12 million views. It consisted of this attractive 30-something blonde whispering very quietly into a big microphone about how her voice would relax me and how relaxed I was becoming because of her “gentle whispers” and how, when she scratched very quietly on her hairbrush it was very relaxing to me. And I was supposed to get all tingly.
Now I’m not sure how the other 12 million viewers made out, but I didn’t exactly tingle. In fact, I was so weirded out that I could only listen to about 15 seconds of Cathy’s 38 minute (yes, 38 minute!) whisper fest. And Gentle Whisperer has dozens of breathy, barely-audible videos.
And there are plenty of other mega-popular tingle whisperers. In addition to the aforementioned “Heather Feather”, there is also “Tingle Belle”, and “ASMR Darling” to name just a few.
So if you need a healthy tingle, there’s plenty of whispering going around these days if you want to give it a go. Me? I’ll take a loud rock band any day.
Harley Hay is a writer and filmmaker in Red Deer.