When I was a college freshman, my dad told me that 85% of the jobs that would be available to me in 2030 hadn’t been invented yet. Whether or not that statistic is a myth, it continues to comfort me as I stare into the face of graduation and the horrifying world of employment beyond. I don’t think a future with undiscovered jobs is impossible — a decade ago we didn’t have mobile app developers, social media influencers, crypto engineers or ASMRtists. The development of these careers, and the promise of more in the future, keeps me going in this wasteland of resumes and cover letters, and there are a handful of individuals I can point to as especially inspirational — ASMRtist Goodnight Moon being among them.
In the interest of journalistic integrity, I first have to admit that I used to dunk on ASMR big time. When videos of people chewing, scratching, tapping, squishing or peeling things to promote sensory response started dominating YouTube in the early 2010s, I was pretty weirded out. I couldn’t grasp the appeal of listening to weird noises too close to a microphone, and sometimes, I still can’t. Then, about two years ago, I discovered ambient ASMR. I was working as a Student Assistant in Alice Lloyd Hall during the pandemic, living in a dorm room alone and unable to interact with my residents, when I came across a genre of ASMR that could transport me to other places or, more specifically, other fictional universes. I was able to pass those lonely days in Bobby’s Cabin from Supernatural or on a “Girls Night with the Marvel Ladies.” Due to these videos, I slowly opened up to other kinds of ASMR.
Fast forward to today, and I’m falling asleep to three hours of scalp cleaning and rediscovering YouTubers like Goodnight Moon. Real name Erin Timony, Goodnight Moon originated on YouTube in 2010 as a beauty vlogger under the screen name FreshBlush, before becoming an ASMRtist in 2017. The crazy thing is that I actually started watching Timony’s videos when she was still FreshBlush — even then, her videos and personality were wildly calming and reassuring for me. Then, one day, I started getting ASMR videos in my subscription feed as she rebranded. I unsubscribed.
As I dove deeper into the ASMR world over the past couple of years, Timony’s content came up once again. As a sometimes-lonely, eternally-touch-starved person whose top love languages are quality time and physical touch, a lot of her content now suits me perfectly. Timony combines my two favorite ASMR genres — ambient and physical touch — to create truly incredible experiences like checking into a cozy autumnal lodge or getting your makeup done by your well-intentioned but possibly unhinged personal assistant. Not only are her videos perfectly suited to my wants and needs, but the quality of her content is through the roof. She includes a range of ASMR triggers in her videos from tapping to whispering to mumbling, and it’s easy to tell that her voice and these triggers are recorded carefully and with the utmost attention to detail. In her roleplay-centric videos, Timony is known for employing immaculate sets and costumes; she approaches and executes each role she creates with an actor’s professionalism. Her channel has a number of recurring characters and places like the Valley Girl and Mahogany Lodge, and she even has a long-running worldbuilding series called Babblebrook. Timony is truly a storyteller, and as a creative writing major, I am utterly in love with and inspired by her ability to use a medium like ASMR to transport viewers into a world of her own creation, something I can only hope to replicate in my own work.
But, I hear you crying out (or whispering, depending on your ASMR preferences), this has nothing to do with employment statistics. Oh, but it does. Here’s the thing: I am very confident in my choice to be a creative writing major. It’s a path I’ve known I would take since I was, oh, six years old. As I get older, though, it’s also a path I recognize as economically precarious. I have always been surrounded by a strong artistic support network, and my parents have always encouraged me to do what I love before doing what pays, but having emerged from a pandemic with the possibility of a recession looming post-graduation, I’m increasingly aware that a career in the arts is hard to come by and doesn’t always pay. My dad’s 85% statistic helps, though it doesn’t quiet the gnawing feeling that I need a job, and I need one now. But, in the same breath that I express a need for employment, I also express a need for employment outside the corporate world — a need for creative employment, a need for a job that can be my own invention.
I don’t know Erin Timony’s age, but I would pin her at being in her mid to late 20s. I’m 21. I am young. I am far too young to be so terrified by the idea of a career that I have the next several years, not to mention decades, to change and invent. That is the root of my fascination with Goodnight Moon. Having been a witness to her career evolution, I find her ability to switch focus at the height of her popularity inspiring but, more than that, comforting. I always feel like the career I pick post-college will be the job I’ll stay in until I die, but watching another young woman make the hard and fast switch from beauty influencer to ASMRtist in her 20s reminds me of the fluidity of work and career preferences. I’m surrounded by people that took different paths than what their education or initial jobs dictated (see: my parents), and that should comfort me more than it does. I think, though, that being in such close proximity to Timony in terms of identity and age means her case is easier to project myself onto and digest as something that could feasibly happen to me. It also means that, since she created her own job at such a young age, I feel I can do the same thing and still be successful so long as I have passion and a love for what I do — which, for most of my life, I have. So things are looking up.
In conclusion, I’m scared. I’m terrified by a wildly uncertain future, as I imagine every generation before me has been, but it’s hard not to feel like you’re the only one with this fear. I’ve managed to bury most of that terror, but every so often, it breaches the surface and reminds me that a creative writing major is not the most lucrative choice. Most of the time, I’m able to put the fear down with reminders of my love for what I do or the fact that I can always change, but other times, I need a more concrete stimulant — a Goodnight Moon video, that is. Timony’s content comforts me in both sleepless nights and whirlwinds of confusion over what I’m doing with my life but, in both instances, it keeps me coming back. It keeps me coming back to remember that I am oh so young and so very full of potential, and that, even if I don’t become an ASMRtist, I am capable of both change and creativity.
Daily Arts Writer Maddie Agne can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.