Among the great divisive topics of human culture, up there with pineapple on pizza, is the matter of autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR). While some love it, others are creeped out by the idea of a person whispering into their ears through headphones. Nevertheless, ASMR has something to teach all of us: the value of caring for each other.

For those not in the know, ASMR refers to the feeling of pleasure derived from specific sensory stimulation. It often manifests as a tingling sensation in the scalp that can spread to the spine and possibly the limbs, similar to the feeling of a gentle hair wash. Not everyone experiences ASMR, but for those who do, it can lower stress levels, reduce pain and improve sleep. 

While I’m not advocating for everyone to include ASMR in their bedtime routines, ASMR can serve as a basis for practicing inclusive care of others.

In addition to pleasant tingles, ASMR’s dedication to the viewer creates an experience where they are the most valuable participant. According to the first official study on ASMR, one of the most popular stimuli is personal attention, in which the “ASMRtist” (a portmanteau for ASMR artist) simulates performing a service for the viewer like doing their makeup. This might seem like a strange way to seek social attention, but the prevalence of these videos proves that many lack this type of individual attention in their daily lives.

While many ASMR fans value personal attention, it is even more important for certain marginalized communities. Some ASMR videos can be very general, especially those that are compilations of visual and audio triggers, but many are also dedicated to specific identities and cultures, such as those catered to queer and transgender viewers. Since ASMR often doesn’t use specific pronouns, it is already a platform where one can safely assume their preferred identity. Some videos focus on specific aspects of queer and trans experiences like guided meditations for gender dysphoria or preparing for Pride. Creative and fun, these videos provide alternative methods for alleviating anxiety, stress and other mental health issues that LGBTQ+ individuals are more prone to suffering.

Another community that I’ve personally enjoyed is the Black ASMR community. Beyond creating content for the larger ASMR community, Black ASMRtists create videos that recognize and validate their Black viewers. Simple acts like using darker shades of foundations in makeup videos and making hair care videos with kinky hair emphasize the idea that Black people need to be cared for and pampered too, a notion that combats stereotypes of Black people always being strong, aggressive and averse to the gentle things in life. Black ASMRtists have also formed coalitions to support one another and come together during the heat of racial violence last summer to promote organizations that advocate for Black lives.

ASMRtists are now also creating more content for disabled and neurodivergent communities, using role-play scenarios and storytelling. They engage the listener in everyday situations like talking to a friend while consciously acknowledging disabilities and circumstances that may come with them such as seizures, sensory overload, panic attacks and dissociation. More videos are also beginning to use sign language and other forms of non-verbal communication, emphasizing visual triggers to maximize ASMR for people who are deaf or hard of hearing.  

Despite the recognition of marginalized individuals, the ASMR community isn’t free of prejudice. White female ASMRtists still dominate the platform as the social image of nurturing femininity. Nevertheless, there is a growing tendency for ASMRtists to acknowledge the diversity in their audience and curate individualized content. It isn’t the mere representation of these communities that is laudable, but rather the fact that as a phenomenon explicitly centered around comfort, relaxation and enjoyment, ASMR creates a space where marginalized persons can be pampered just for being who they are. In a world where it can be difficult to be seen, ASMR provides experiences where everyone can feel valid and worthy of special attention. 

This is the lesson ASMR preaches: everyone is deserving of care. It is not enough for us to be cognizant of each other’s struggles and the injustices we face — we must also be willing advocates for the joys and comforts of everyone, because those, too, are human rights. Whispering voices and tapping sounds aside, ASMR is paving the way for a movement of care in which everyone is invited to partake.

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Catherine Aniezue (23C) is originally from Lagos, Nigeria, but now lives in Evans, Georgia. She is majoring in psychology with a potential minor in Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. She is a self-proclaimed chocolate and coffee lover, and always enjoys a good series. Aniezue hopes to become a child clinical psychologist in the future and maybe get a chance to publish her own novel. Contact Aniezue at