Those of you familiar with ASMR – if you haven’t already – ought to really check it out. I wrote about it not so long ago, and if you have an affinity for audio, whether specific sounds or songs, you’re better off catching up before continuing to read this post.
So I had an interesting conversation with my older brother of six years. He and I share a common ancestry as most brothers tend to do, and while we lead vastly different lives and offer the world vastly different personas, there are a few things in common that persist through the years.
I recently discovered something new.
So as I mentioned, I wrote about my personal discovery as a person who feels the ASMR effect. It was a sort of liberating eureka-esque moment of self-discovery.
“So THAT’S what that is!”
“There’s a name for that?”
“I thought that everyone felt that.”
Since learning and writing about it, I’ve commenced in not-so-subtle questioning of most people in my circles, questing for others who share this. It’d be too easy to just join an online forum devoted to ASMR-folk, as I’ve read there’s quite the Reddit community devoted to this. I guess I first wanted to see if there was anyone I knew who knew what the hell I was talking about before I sought the company of strangers on the internet.
I had nearly given up hope; none of my friends share this. I have met people who share my love for music, people who take their music more seriously than I do – people who want to start an indie label and others who can dance the night away at a club. No one felt the sensation that I described, though some could relate, or at least pretend to understand.
“It’s like chills,” I usually say. “Goosebumps, but in a good way. Been described as an ear-gasm or a brain-gasm — though it’s nothing actually sexual.”
Often I have to hastily add the last part since some peeps have actually suppressed laughing at me, supposedly experienced listeners who frown on my apparent lack of fandom for bands like the Beatles or Nirvana.
The thing about ASMR that I’ve discovered is that it does not necessarily cater to a specific genre, much less a band. Heck, when I’m feeling nihilisitic I’ll listen to Nine Inch Nails, because I like ’em in those moods, but none of their music gives me the ASMR effect. For me, at the risk of repeating myself too often, the effect is generated from music or cognitive connections — usually the music paints a scene in my mind, or delivers me to a sort of zone, and often enough the music will lay the foundation for thoughts that lead to creative eureka-isms, which trigger ASMR as well. No one I’ve spoken to shared this experience.
Except my brother.
Let’s call him Forest so that you don’t know his real name is Forest. He’s six years older than me, has a family, a stable job, and was a huge influence on my gamer-upbringing as well as my musical tastes when I was a sprout. We have the kind of peculiar standoffish-yet-close relationship where we’re comfortable and share many things in common, but personal issues are usually something that are not brought up between us. I suppose that’s a long story in its own right.
And yet, I tentatively brought up the topic of ASMR one day, and lo and behold, he understood what I meant. It was a little different for him, but he knew. He described it precisely as others have, including myself, a sort of “chill” at the nape of the neck, sometimes running down the spine. Triggered by sound.
For him, it’s more specific sound effects, to which I can totally relate. You know that “sonic bomb” as used in Star Wars: Episode II, that Jango Fett uses in the asteroid field?
I could not find any audio clips of it. But it’s pretty nifty. Something not altogether different from the Inception Sound.
While the ASMR effect is something not terribly inclusive, it is a growing phenomena. There’s no knowing what percentage of the population has it, since most people who do didn’t, as my and my brother, have a name for the sensation.
What I do know is that this stuff has the makings of some excellent story elements. A nacent sense that only some people possess? Sounds like a mutation or a manifestation of magic in another setting, if you ask me.