Maria gets so close to the camera, I can feel her breathing.
“Try to relax,” she says. “I’ll do everything myself. I’ll take care of you.” It’s strangely erotic. Maria is on my computer screen. She smiles and looks at me calmly.
Millions of Youtube viewers swear that Maria’s videos help them fall asleep. This effect is called ASMR, autonomous sensory meridian response, which is usually triggered by sounds that “feel good.” In her video recordings, Maria whispers, combs her hair, pours water from one glass into another, listens to the sounds of a sizzling beer and presses buttons on her phone.
The audience of one of the most popular channels on Youtube called “Gentle Whispering ASMR” almost equaled the amount of subscribers of the BBC channel this year. Moreover, companies like KFС, Dove and Pepsi are using the techniques of ASMR in their commercials.
“Feel the warm sand being poured onto your shoulders,” says the blond girl on the screen of my laptop.
Six years ago she created the channel “Gentle Whispering,” and today it has collected 303 million views.
At first, it might seem like she is crazy. Anyone who I show these videos to believe the same. However, after a few “Maria sessions,” you can’t help but get addicted.
Ten years ago, Maria moved from Russia to the USA. First she worked as a consultant at a small hardware store. Then Maria acquired a massage therapy qualification and worked in a private medical clinic. In February 2011, she registered the channel “Gentle Whispering” on Youtube and recorded her first video. It didn’t show her face, only her hands flipping through a magazine.
She later confessed that ASMR has helped her in the past. She had a severe nervous breakdown and did not know how to recover, until she found a “whispering” video on the Internet and “found peace.”
Maria recorded videos of her flipping through a magazine, making origami, playing with sea shells. Then her viewers asked to show her face and record a video in English, which she did. When her channel started to become more popular, Maria moved to a new place with her boyfriend and resigned from the clinic. There were many airplanes flying over her new apartment building, so she had to adjust if she wanted to record videos. She recalls having a large wooden cube – like a mobile recording studio – it isolated sound quite well, but she also felt like she was suffocating inside it. Eventually they moved out again and threw out that “piece of equipment.” Today, money made from Youtube commercials is enough to help Maria rent a house, buy professional equipment and live comfortably.
There is no scientific evidence on whether ASMR actually works, but Maria and her fans strongly believe in these techniques nonetheless:
Main photo cred – weheartit