slime videos

Slime Videos: Unraveling the Psychology of Strangely Entertaining Content #1

A generation is enamored with the grandeur of artfully orchestrated chaos.

slime videos
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Within the categories of things that did not exist before to the internet era, “oddly satisfying” images and films rank alongside the incredibly strange and the immensely fantastic. Oddly satisfying slime videos, a term coined on Reddit to characterize the strangely pleasing feeling that a seemingly insignificant thing could arouse in its audience, range from watching pressure washers clean pavements to marbled cake glazing and industrial machines cutting through ice. The definition of weirdly fulfilling is like tossing a ball of crumpled paper into the trash bin and having it land there the first time after which you will repeatedly view it as a collection.

But in recent months, teenagers in the US and the UK have appropriated the term “oddly satisfying” to describe their trippy movies, which show disembodied hands combining glitter, glue, and other ingredients to create slime, a substance that resembles playdough. The oddly gratifying hashtag took off, reaching previously unheard-of heights (almost 900k images on Instagram alone include the hashtag #oddlysatisfying), but the phenomenon wasn’t limited to slime-making. Other mixtures, including kinetic sandslicing, soap cutting, paint mixing, and cake, sponge, liquid metal, and frosting—anything pliable enough to be entertaining to watch—started to surface rather quickly.

An entire ecology of these films has emerged, hypnotizing the internet in a technicolor fantasy of fast gratification—whether it’s pouring, cutting, washing, combining, or slicing. This got me to thinking: What is it that makes peculiarly pleasurable videos peculiar, exactly?

slime videos

Visually Congruent

“Things don’t have to have a reason for existing in 2018,” claims Kevin Allocca, the head of trends and culture at YouTube and the author of Videocracy. I ask Allocca why he believes that Weirdly Fulfilling has gained such a large following on the internet. He explains, “I’m not sure if it’s something that’s related to this particular moment.” However, he thinks the taxonomy—which can now be classified the strangely satisfying—is where the shift is. “I believe that we’ve always wanted to see these kinds of things, but we lacked the vocabulary to express it. We do now.

Although it can be difficult to explain our preferences for some things, there may be some hints to be found among the variety of strangely pleasurable films available online. Apart from the garish colors and copious amounts of glitter, these more recent movies differ from the previous ones in that they purposefully recreate visually congruous aspects that serve only to gratify the audience. Where others were accidental, this one is intentional, yet it’s also innovative. Finding congruence among visual stimuli appears to be valuable, according to Allocca. “I believe that people are beginning to realize that making strangely satisfying things is an art.”

A Youthful Emphasis Slime Videos

Google claims that slime emerged as the largest do-it-yourself phenomenon of 2017 and even brought up a glue scarcity in the US. It had everything it needed: inexpensive materials, quick and simple construction, eye-catching design, and, of course, a horde of young teenagers with the free time and internet skills to mimic one other’s actions. The most intriguing thing, though, is that these movies are being watched by young, tech-savvy individuals as a sleep aid before bed. Due to the numerous reports that viewing videos of slime and other items falling under the strangely pleasing category might help individuals feel quiet and relaxed, there has been considerable speculation as to whether or not the term “oddly satisfying” actually refers to a different subset of ASMR. The creator of ASMR University, Professor Craig Richard, thinks it is, but only in terms of a certain kind of trigger that he refers to as observation-mediated ASMR. “People using their hands to perform skilled tasks is a common theme among these videos,” he explains. Richard thinks that this second wave’s attraction to our more innocent instincts is another reason why it has captured the attention of younger viewers. We are programmed to be fascinated by hand motions, therefore it appeals to our younger brains, he explains. “We developed our fine motor skills by observing what other people do with their hands because you never know what you might learn from it.”

One may argue that younger viewers are responsible for the oddly fulfilling phenomenon’s recent rise in popularity since they are accustomed to screen time sooner and may not encounter the tactile oddly satisfying sensations in the real world on a daily basis. Rather, they are now considering making them for viewing on the internet. Similar to ASMR, it appears that viewers are using these films as a form of microtherapy, a quick fix for uneasiness. Mirror neuron theory may play a role in explaining why people report feeling more at ease after seeing these movies, according to Dr. Anita Deák, a psychology professor at the University of Pécs. According to her, “mirror neurons are motor neurons in the brain that fire when we see someone else perform an action.” “However, when we perform the action, these neurons are also active.” To put it simply, people are enjoying these films as much as if they were performing the activity themselves.

While Deák agrees that we cannot speculate on the purportedly soothing benefits of these films, she believes that their appeal stems from the “instant hit” nature of the experience; nonetheless, she believes that if people were to really go through these experiences in real life, the impacts would be more anxiety-relieving. “In real life, you have kinaesthetic, auditory, and olfactory information in addition to visual information,” the speaker claims. “I think that if you experienced everything, it would be more relaxing.”

The Everyday’s Cinematic Quality

I can still clearly recall my very first strangely fulfilling encounter. 2011 saw the release of Lindt’s well-known “Dream in Chocolate” commercial for Lindor. The chewy chocolate center keeps filling up in the 30-second commercial, almost spilling over the edges. Later on, I developed an obsession with melting chocolate and tried, if only briefly, to replicate that sensation. It was addicting, and the joy of doing it was really greater than the satisfaction of eating the chocolate afterwards.

For decades, advertising has employed the concept of the strangely pleasing to produce visually striking and attention-grabbing videos. They display flawless times and flawless deeds. However, they are well-created, produced, and manufactured experiences. The chocolate in the Lindt advertisement would spill in real life, yet it looks beautiful in the commercial. This has given rise to some hypotheses that suggest the strangely pleasurable is a desire for closure, the “just right” Goldilocks sensation that many OCD sufferers yearn for. However, there are a variety of movies under this peculiarly rewarding category that show both completed and incomplete chores, as well as the production and destruction of things. It’s evident that there is something for everyone, and the enjoyment that viewers experience from the films may have a far easier explanation.

Professor of art and cinema philosophy at the University of Houston, Evan Malone, characterizes his encounter with the strangely fulfilling in an article as a “daily moment of transcendental bliss in streaming videos of folks pressure-washing their driveways.” Malone views the strangely pleasant as a commonplace, unremarkable, everyday event that, in the appropriate circumstances, takes on a sensation akin to a movie.

Malone believes that the recently popular online films are reproducing the cinematic quality of the ordinary, but he also makes the assumption that this is what French philosopher Baudrillard called the “hyper-real.” “At first, it appeared as though there was a hyperrealistic component; it was like your own life, only better! It’s more cinematic because it’s more genuine, and in that sense, it’s ideal,” he remarks. “And it looks like there’s this second wave of things that seem even more hyperreal; the colors are richer and the scene has a greater sense of cinematic quality.”

But how can the strangely fulfilling materialize? There is a certain aesthetic quality that may be tactile as well as visible. Another possibility is the sound—a satisfying click made when something closes—he explains. “All these wildly disparate things that are just completely different sense modalities seem to have something in common.”

Whether it’s a generation that finds solace in the whimsical handling of materials at the present, the peculiarly fulfilling offers the possibility of perfection, or exquisitely orchestrated anarchy. “When something fits or functions perfectly in a way that it rarely does in our typically awkward real life, we get these shots of cinematicity that explode into our conscious experience,” he adds. “It’s a cozy escape from reality; it’s familiar but organized and more cinematic than real life.”

Ultimately, though, Evan Malone believes that discovering the strangely fulfilling via web video is not necessary. He says, “I would hate for people to watch these videos and think that they are in need of a hit.” “I still find that the most fulfilling moments are those that occur in my lived experience.” It could be simpler than you think to discover the strangely rewarding in your daily life, whether it’s putting that ball of paper in the trashcan the first time, cutting that cake perfectly, or pausing to watch the barista skillfully swirl the milk on top of your coffee. Which is, after all, in and of itself, a rather pleasurable concept.

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