So why the sudden excitement about ear wax? Earwax removal remedies are literally thousands of years old – ear candling can be traced back to the Egyptians in 2500 BC
(side note; absolutely under no circumstances should you, your family, your dog, your grandma or anyone engage in “ear candling”; it does not work and the FDA explicitly states it as dangerous
I spoke with a friend of mine, Portland based audiologist, Vanessa Rentschler, Au.D., CCC-A
, to get some insight into this strange and sudden trend and her initial response made me laugh, “As an audiologist, who has been working in and around ears for almost 20 years, is… I have no idea!”
Which was quickly followed up by some insightful perspective, a deep dive into behavioral research and something called “disgust response”, and a comparison to the aforementioned pimple-popping videos,
“Cerumen (ear wax) is like any other bodily substance- a biological trait that has evolved to keep the organism clean and healthy. Using brain imaging (fMRI), researchers have found
a pattern of activity that connects brain regions that encode pleasure and aversion, with the region that predicts the outcome of physical actions. Greater activation of these networks was found in the test group who enjoyed watching pimple popping videos, as compared to the group that did not. Not unlike the feeling of watching a scary movie for fun, the autonomic nervous system activation can be enjoyable when one is safe in the knowledge that it is not real. It is perhaps this act of modulating the disgust reaction that makes these videos appealing, as watching a video of pimple-popping (or earwax removal) involves no real risk of pathogen exposure. (1)”
In other words, the science behind this behavior can be boiled down to the following:
Just like watching a scary movie can be enjoyable, some people like to watch videos of bodily functions (like ear wax removal) because it allows them to observe without any risk of contracting disease, even if that inherent risk (in this case, touching ear wax) is essentially none.
What I find so interesting about all of this though, is when you scroll through the comment sections of some of these videos. You start seeing the same type of comments over and over again:
Why is this so satisfying,, I NEED THIS!
Why is this actually satisfying
(love the singular emoji as a name)
Why is this so satisfying
It makes me laugh seeing how even the people watching the videos are having trouble pinpointing why they’re so interested in them.
Alright, that’s it for the day. Keep those ears clean and thanks as always for checking out the site. Oh, and if you ever make one of these videos and realize you need your ears cleaned out, we got every at-home device you could need, from drops
to irrigation kits
1- Wabnegger, A., Höfler, C., Zussner, T., Freudenthaler, H. H., & Schienle, A. (2021). Enjoyment of watching pimple popping videos: An fMRI investigation. Behavioural brain research, 402, 113129. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bbr.2021.113129