Why are People on Instagram Obsessed with Slime?

Sarah Vincent, Reporter

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You’re scrolling through your IG feed and there’s another video about slime. Why? Why is everyone so obsessed with the mixing of borax and glue?

At the beginning of summer 2016, Instagram began featuring short videos demonstrating both people creating the slime and people playing with it. In fact, there are over 100,000 posts under the #slimerecipe and over 1,000,000 under #slime. What caused this phenomenon?

The history of these videos actually has a much different origin than most people might think. Instead of a useless pastime that people choose to post on social media, the videos have several benefits.

People who face the daily challenges associated with autism are encouraged to pursue activities that stimulate sensory integration into what they are doing. According to the Autism Research Institution, both children and adults with autism generally express symptoms of a dysfunctional sensory system that is either over- or under-stimulated. To treat an under-stimulated sensory system, those with autism use a form of therapy called sensory integration therapy.

Sensory integration focuses on connecting the five different senses not only with each other, but with other parts of the brain. According to the National Center of Biotechnological Information, the parts of the brain that are affected when somebody is experiencing symptoms of autism are the same parts of the brain affected by stimulation of the senses.

Whether it be the action of squeezing a stress toy, lying under a heavy blanket, or engaging in aromatherapy, those with autism can center themselves by engaging their senses.

Although people’s senses are not being directly stimulated, the videos that have been spread over Instagram still help those with autism.

Arguably more important than the videos themselves, the communities of self-named “slimers” provide a support group for those with autism. Social media provides an outlet through which people who used to be separated by thousands of miles are able to communicate and develop close relationships. This is represented through the communities of those who are both “slimers” and those with autism to have relationships online when they may feel left out in their normal lives.

For those who are not affected by autism, the slime videos can have a similar calming effect to relieve anxiety. If somebody feels overwhelmed with their work, he or she can take a break for a minute, watch one of the videos, and hopefully feel a sense of concentration and readiness to work again.

Yes, this means that watching the slime videos that sporadically appear on your Explore page is not always senseless procrastination. Watching these videos help stimulate one’s sensory neurons, thus distracting him or her from whatever may be the source of their anxiety.

So the next time that you or someone you are close to is feeling stressed out, maybe you shouldn’t skip over that slime video — it could actually help.

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