A few months ago, STEPHANIE FAIRYINGTON was on a Manhattan-bound D train heading to work when a man with a chunky, noisy newspaper got on and sat next to her. As she watched him softly turn the pages of his paper, a chill spread like carbonated bubbles through the back of her head, instantly relaxing her and bringing her to the verge of sweet slumber.
It wasn’t the first time she’d felt this sensation at the sound of rustling paper — she had experienced it as far back as she can remember. But it suddenly occurred to her that, as a lifelong insomniac, she might be able to put it to use by reproducing the experience digitally whenever sleep refused to come.
Under the sheets of her bed that night, she plugged in some earphones, opened the YouTube app on her phone and searched for “Sound of pages.” What she discovered stunned her.
There were nearly 2.6 million videos depicting a phenomenon called autonomous sensory meridian response, or A.S.M.R., designed to evoke a tingling sensation that travels over the scalp or other parts of the body in response to auditory, olfactory or visual forms of stimulation.
The sound of rustling pages, it turns out, is just one of many A.S.M.R. triggers. The most popular stimuli include whispering; tapping or scratching; performing repetitive, mundane tasks like folding towels or sorting baseball cards; and role-playing, where the videographer, usually a breathy woman, softly talks into the camera and pretends to give a haircut, for example, or an eye examination. The videos span 30 minutes on average, but some last more than an hour. (1)
We think too much.
We act too much.
We just don’t stay still doing nothing.
We think this is bad.
And yet, this is what makes us happy.
You cannot get in touch with One by analyzing things.
In order to see the whole, you just have to stop seeing parts.
You just have to… Be.
Listen to the pages turning.
Listen to the wind.
Close your eyes.