n. A person who makes videos that invoke an autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR), which creates a pleasurable, tingling sensation in the heads of susceptible viewers.
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But she’s not after exposure or money, she says. Videos by other "ASMRtists" once helped her through a period of depression, and now she wants to pay it forward.
—Caitlin Gibson, “A whisper, then tingles, then 87 million YouTube views: Meet the star of ASMR,” The Washington Post, December 15, 2014
For those not wired for A.S.M.R. — and even for those who, like me, apparently are — the videos and the cast of characters who produce them — sometimes called "ASMRtists" or "tingle-smiths" — can seem weird, creepy or just plain boring. (Try pitching the pleasures of watching a nerdy German guy slowly and silently assemble a computer for 30 minutes.)
—Stephanie Fairington, “Rustle, Tingle, Relax: The Compelling World of A.S.M.R.,” The New York Times, July 28, 2014
2012 (earliest)
So how this is going to work is that ASMR Radio has built a line up of just some of the greatest whisperers and ASMRtists in the community as our Radio Show hosts.
—WhisperingWeaver, “#7 [Soft Spoken] ASMR Radio Unveils + Contest,” ASMR Radio, March 23, 2012
Everyone talks about the “long tail” of products: those obscure bands, esoteric books, and other niche items that have low demand because they appeal only to a tiny segment of the overall market. These items are now often readily available because, thanks to the Internet and other technologies, the costs of producing, distributing, and perhaps most importantly, finding these items have plummeted.

But there’s another long tail, one that’s not as often discussed: the long tail of human interests and behavior. It’s not news that people have niche passions and engage in obscure pastimes, but the Internet has given these people a way to find each other. The result? Communities of people who are into slacklining, planking, and extreme ironing (to name just a few that I’ve featured on Word Spy). On the surface, these appear to be out-there pursuits that must surely appeal only to a few oddballs. But dig a bit deeper and you often find thousands, sometimes hundreds of thousands of people who have created thriving subcultures around these interests.

ASMR is a perfect example. To an outsider, what could be stranger or, to be honest, creepier, than listening to someone whispering or watching someone scratching or tapping a surface, rustling papers, or folding towels? (My own reaction to these videos is downright misophonic.) But the most popular ASMRtists have well over 100,000 tingleheads (YouTube subscribers) and the ASMRtist Index page lists more than 1,500 tinglesmiths.

And this has been going on for years. It’s hard to pin down when ASMR videos first started appearing on YouTube, but it seems to have been in the spring of 2009 (although this page seems to claim that a YouTube user named Alexia ASMRtist joined YouTube on October 4, 2008). The original ASMRtist Index on YouTube was created in July 2009 (at least according to its About page).

It’s a big, old world out there and it’s one that includes a lot of people who really enjoy the sounds of whispering, chewing, crinkling, tapping, and rummaging. Long live the long tail!
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