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7. The Viral Star

Name: Maria 
Title: Youtube creator/ASMR-tist
Why they're interesting: Making videos that lull people to sleep 

Millions of people have made their way to the Gentle Whispering ASMR Youtube Channel. And thousands of them have left comments for Maria — the woman who creates and stars in every video. Their number-one request, Maria says, is videos to help them fall asleep. So sleep-inducing videos are what they get.

ASMR, which stands for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response, refers to a tingly sensation that some people feel in their scalp (and down their neck and spine). People with ASMR can watch videos — made by ASMRtists like Maria — that are designed to elicit those tingly feelings via "triggers." Common triggers include things like personal attention, whispering and soft, repetitive sounds. There are various types of ASMR videos, including simulated medical appointments and rhythmic tapping videos, but they're notoriously hard to describe — check some out for yourself.

Maria, who does not use her last name for privacy reasons, started watching "whisper videos" in 2009 to quell her anxiety. But she found herself itching to get in front of the camera. So, in 2011, she tamed her naturally bubbly voice into a slow, breathy whisper and started making her own videos. Today, Maria is the most famous ASMRtist in the world. 

It’s possible, Maria says, to make an ASMR video that won't help people fall asleep. But Maria intentionally creates all of her videos — including simple whisper videos, role plays and beauty tutorials — to function both as tingle-sparkers and sleep aids. “You’ll notice that in the beginning of all my videos,” said Maria, explaining her formula for sleepy videos, “I talk louder and faster, and then towards the end of the videos, I speak quieter, slower and dim the lights.”

But, while Maria pays a lot of attention to structure and sound quality in her videos, she’s less concerned with subject matter. “Most of the time, it doesn’t matter what you say,” said Maria. “People aren’t listening to the words; that's not what they care about. We live in a world of chaos and our ASMR videos give the viewer an opportunity to be submerged in a pool of attention and love. They feel like they’re being pampered and taken care of. That's what they care about.” 

Maria still uses ASMR to help her power down at night (although she doesn't use her own videos). But she warns against OD-ing. “You can build up a tolerance, so I’d advise people to take breaks, weekly or bi-weekly, or at least not to watch more than one or two videos a night.”

Next: The Revivalist

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