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