A stranger whispering in your ear might sound like something to be avoided rather than sought out, but the 87 million views that Maria — who goes only by her first name — has amassed on YouTube indicate otherwise. In early 2011, Maria began filming and uploading videos of herself creating gentle sounds with her voice and with objects such as hairbrushes and seashells. In the four years since, she's become the online face of autonomous sensory meridian response, or ASMR, via her YouTube channel, GentleWhispering. Yesterday, at the request of The Washington Post, Maria released a new video, above, to explain to the uninitiated what AMSR is all about.
A brief intro: ASMR is a pseudo-scientific term that describes a tingling sensation induced by visual, auditory, or cognitive cues like the sound of soft whispering or the sight of a woman folding laundry.
Maria's not the first ASMRtist, as they're known, but she is the most popular. She told The Washington Post that beyond the astronomical numbers of views her videos receive, she also gets thank-you message after thank-you message from her viewers. Stressed-out students, sleep-disordered individuals, military vets, and more enthuse over Maria's ability to calm them down like nothing else can.
Effusive anecdotes aside, there is as of yet no published research to support the phenomenon of ASRM. In the end, you're probably an ASMRer or you're not, and the only way to tell is by experiencing it for yourself. View Maria's explainer video above to get a sense for what it's all about, and then head to her channel to see if she can lull you into her signature "euphoric relaxation."