Ambience videos are a YouTube genre that plays peaceful soundscapes against an animated backdrop, like a haunted Victorian manor or an elf coffee shop or a stranger's living room. They're created for the sole purpose of "soothing," which differs from ASMR (autonomous sensory meridian response) videos that are meant to titillate you with sounds of whispers, and hair brushing and nail tapping.
NY Times interviewed the people who "self-medicate" by immersing themselves in these digital environments.
For Sam Ali, a 27-year-old who lives in Ottawa, ambience videos have been a key tool for managing anxiety levels that have been "through the roof" since last March. A book blogger, Ms. Ali likes to throw on an ambience video when she's settling down to read — a cafe with soft jazz playing, maybe, or the Hufflepuff common room. "I leave all of my thoughts outside my bedroom door, turn on my ASMR Room, get in bed and read, and completely lose myself in a different world," she said.
Take a break and see for yourself. Teleport to this Jazz club in Paris:
Or just sit in this cozy cafe and listen to the rain while you read:
I've actually been practicing YouTube-mancy and letting the algorithm gods recommend what I listen to while I meditate, and that's how I discovered this trippy, ethereal forest where butterfly ghosts fly around sprinkling magic dust. I don't really watch the screen, but the soundscape is dynamic and definitely soothing.
Read more: The Soothing, Digital Rooms of YouTube (The New York Times)