The Tingle of frustration: ASMR for the hard of hearing

I'm sure you mean well, Maria, but tell me, just WTF did you say?
I’m sure you mean well, Maria, but please tell me again WTF you just said.

Without even trying, people can be mean to those of us who are hearing impaired. But nothing ratchets up the cruelty like the lure of ASMR — Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response — as outlined in a recent Washington Post story.

mgTo the hearing impaired, ASMR is like the whispered promise of sex for a man whose tools were tragically snagged inside an industrial meat grinder. It’s absolutely hopeless!

YouTube sensation Maria (last name withheld) has generated more than 87 million views for her videos in which she uses a variety of hushed whispers, gestures and gentle taps that adherents say can “instill a sense of tranquility, overcome insomnia or flood the body with waves of euphoric tingles.”

But even in a quiet house, with my computer’s volume turned all the way up, and with my hearing aids quivering on maximum overdrive, I caught less than half of Maria’s whispers, making me feel more infuriated than euphoric. WILL SOMEBODY PLEASE LET ME IN ON THE GODDAMNED SECRET???? STOP WHISPERING, DAMMIT!!!!

According to Maria, ASMR is “like showers of sparkles. It’s like warm sand being poured all over you, trickling over your head and down into your shoulders. It’s like goosebumps on your brain.”

While Maria’s videos are mostly hopeless for me, even some people with good hearing might strain to hear them. And what those “normal” people don’t realize is that straining to hear Maria can be like an everyday encounter for people like me:

WAITRESS: “You want cream and sugar, hon?”
ME: “A green bugger on my bun?”
WAITRESS: “Whaaaaa? Hahahahaha!”
ME: “Huh?”


NEIGHBOR: “I’m sorry to hear that your aunt died.”
ME: “No, go ahead, have one, they’re baked, not fried.”
NEIGHBOR: “Hahahaha!”
ME: “Excuse me?”

And yet straining to hear never leaves me feeling the “goosebumps on my brain” that Maria says I should feel. I must be doing something wrong, because as hard as I try, I just don’t feel relaxed and tingly after my boss asks, “How are you doing?” and I’ve replied, “No, I haven’t seen him today.”

A set of WAS 3000 speakers is on its way to my house, and might finally allow Maria to shower me with golden sparkles.
A set of WAS 3000 speakers is on its way to my house, and might finally allow Maria to shower me with golden sparkles.

But despite all that, I think Maria means well. She doesn’t know me, so why would she want to torture me on purpose? I think she really wants to help me relax, and that’s why I’m ordering a set of Was 3000 speakers from Wyle Laboratories. Touted as the “mother of all speakers,” once I hook them up to my laptop, they should allow me to hear Maria’s breathy voice, and finally I’ll know why she’s smiling. It’ll be expensive, but worth it, because even deaf people deserve a shower of sparkles once in awhile.



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  1. Until you pointed her out, I’d never heard of, or from, Maria. Now that I’ve checked out the video, though, I’m pretty sure it’s all some kind of Internet joke. In any case, it’s over my head — not to mention the gnomes’.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You have hearing aids? I guess you spent too much time in the press room at the Post.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I can hear her but I find her so annoying I just want to rip her f*cking head off. Is this normal? What are we supposed to get out of this crap, anyway?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I don’t know much about this topic, but it’s apparently a real thing. This American Life did an episode about it. See

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I kind of agree with Susan, hearing the whispering is super annoying. I wanted to put a pillow over my computer speaker, and lunged to shut down the sound as fast as I could. Phew. Perhaps there’s a subculture of people who like being yelled at–maybe that’s my tribe. More here:

    Liked by 1 person

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