Finding Peace in the Whispering Campaign: Life Hacks by Charles Assisi

The piece is written in the tone of a head massage that most Indian men are familiar with from salon visits – oil being slathered, slaps delivered, neck ridges straightened. The man on his way to work was introduced to me as Anil Cakmak, an ASMR barber. It definitely feels soothing, like a massage; Although Anil is in Turkey, I am only on his YouTube channel.

(From left) Anil Kakamak is an ASMR barber.  Gibby premium
(From left) Anil Kakamak is an ASMR barber. Gibby talks about “nothing important enough to stay awake”… “I like to look at the moon”.

If someone had told me I was doing this, even a few months ago, I would have laughed in their face. But here I am. Here is the reason.

My daughters make it a point to remind me every day, that I am now a “hill-on-the-hill kind of person,” which is infuriating. On the contrary, amidst their chatter on the subject, I gain deep insight into the lives of a generation that has grown up in a world unrecognizable from the one I grew up in. From time to time, I can learn what I have. was not imagined.

One of these is the evolving world of ASMR therapy. It has long been known that humans derive a visual pleasure from certain sounds. This scientifically proven but still-unknown phenomenon is called Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR). But, as I’m now learning, ASMR therapy goes far beyond reels of people crunching, squirming, and whispering. For one thing, young people like my daughters are giving each other ASMR therapy, as a way to de-bond and relax.

When one of them offered to show me how it works, I accepted. She made me sit on the chair, I was comfortable. Then asked if I would like a head massage. It sounded too good to be true. Indeed, it was. After setting it up, all I got was a nice head massage and a few banter sounds like, “pretend you’re at the local barbershop”.

Every once in a while, my daughter would ask me if I was feeling better. It took me a while to admit that I was; The approach of using such sound to evoke sensation has promising effects.

Online, of course, the most popular ASMR videos feature people eating (in a subcategory called mukbang, which is young South Koreans looking for some company online during their lonely lunchtimes). Soft sounds help lower heart rate and relax muscles. For lonely young people, it’s a little company when they need it. In their increasingly fast-paced and stressful world, it provides comfort and escape.

ASMR appeals to young people seeking a sense of belonging and community, according to a study by researchers in Germany and the Netherlands published last May in the journal Experimental Brain Research. That study found that 67% of ASMR viewers are under the age of 35. Other studies put the average age much lower.

Finding the best new videos, and identifying ASMR stars “before they’re really big,” is a form of bonding between her friends in the real world, my daughter told me. Whatever ASMR can be, the possibilities are endless. Today’s rising stars feature elements of role-playing and storytelling in their posts.

My daughter lists her favorite artists like Stephanie Soo, a South Korean-American artist with over 3 million followers on YouTube, who talks about murder mystery while eating. When she needs to relax, my daughter said, she turns to American Gibby, with more than 4.6 million subscribers, who amuses and chats in soft whispers (“not important enough to stay awake”… “I like to look at the moon” ).

I must admit that I can’t even imagine the kind of career these content creators have created; Just imagine the multiple markets for such stars. Many have gone on to build careers as models, actors, singers. Some shutter down on their YouTube channel, never to return. Others regularly return to their original fans to whisper about the moon.

Looking down on this ever-changing world from a mountain top, it can be very enlightening.

(Charles Assisi is co-founder of Founding Fuel and co-author of Foundation Impact)

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