"Watch Two Videos and Call Me in the Morning": Self-care, Healthcare, and Affect in ASMR Medical Roleplay Videos

Author: ORCID icon orcid.org/0000-0001-6813-2403
Frank, Matthew, Media, Culture, and Technology - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Ellcessor, Elizabeth, University of Virginia

ASMR stands for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response, and it describes a relaxing tingling sensation in the back of the scalp that some people experience when exposed to certain sounds or visuals. Millions of people around the world watch ASMR videos to fall asleep, deal with symptoms of chronic illness, and relax. ASMR videos on YouTube represent a new form of media intimacy that doubles as a treatment for mental and physical health problems. I contend that ASMR is a continuation of a culture that privileges commercial consumption as a solution to systemic woes. ASMR medical roleplay videos on YouTube are a pharmakon – both a cure and a poison – because they help people to cope with the ills of social isolation and individualism that the affective economy and neoliberal healthcare system promote while feeding into those exact apparatuses. I also argue that ASMR communities are affective networked publics in which nonstandard distant intimacy is the dominant mode of public address.

MA (Master of Arts)
affect, self-care, ASMR
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