Snap, crackle, pop. No, it's not the sound of someone pouring milk on that crispy rice cereal you ate as a kid — it's the sweet explosion of someone cracking their neck or back. No matter how you feel about it, you won't be able to look away from these back cracking videos. And, as you watch, you'll either sighing in sympathetic relief, or cringing and covering your eyes and ears in horror — there's no in between.
From tonsil stones, to epic pimple popping, to ingrown toenails, the allure of watching gross medical videos has to do with human evolution, according to Daniel Kelly, author of the book Yuck!: The Nature and Moral Significance of Disgust, who explained the phenomenon in an interview with Salon. As humans, we initially developed feeling of disgust and revulsion of all things gross to keep us safe from disease. Neat!
With modern healthcare, people are less likely to witness weird medical stuff in everyday life, and the internet has filled that void in our hearts by providing a constant highlight reel of everything gross and weird. Because now that we're not afraid of catching it, we want to watch it. While back cracking isn't gross to look at, for some people, the sound is just as terrible as watching pimple-popping videos is for other people. Watch (and listen) and your own peril.
I am not one of the people who is bothered by back and neck cracking noises. In fact, as someone who has chronic neck and back pain, there is nothing I love more than a good crack. However, the sound that's made when someone cracks their back is not actually cracking at all.
According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, that popping noise is really just your ligaments stretching and releasing the compression of nitrogen bubbles in the spaces of the joints. Doctors actually prefer that you leave the cracking the professionals. Despite the knowledge that the cacophony of cracking is just a harmless release of gas, though, the sound can still send some people running from the room when they realize their in the presence of a compulsive back, neck, or knuckle cracker.
One of the things that makes watching back and neck cracking videos so addicting is the anticipation of the forthcoming crack, which is similar to watching a thriller or horror movie. You know something crazy is about to happen, but you don't know when. This why looking away is not an option.
Another reason some people can't stand the sound of popping joints could be due to something called misophonia, which is the hatred of sound. "People with misophonia are affected emotionally by common sounds — usually those made by others, and usually ones that other people don’t pay attention to," James Cartreine, PhD, wrote in Harvard Health Publishing. "The examples above (breathing, yawning, or chewing) create a fight-or-flight response that triggers anger and a desire to escape."
Warning — if you have misophonia, you'll want to skip this next video, which shows common sounds that bother people with this disorder. What's interesting is that the same sounds that some people find soothing in ASMR videos are a complete nightmare for those with misophonia.
But, enough people enjoy sounds such as back cracking and chewing that videos of people eating and cracking their backs and necks have a cult following on You Tube. Because, there really is a community for every weird thing. If you thought you were alone in your affinity for cracking, just head to YouTube to find your new BFFs.
While I love cracking my own back and neck (even though I know I'm not supposed to), it's hard for me to relax and let someone else do it because it seriously looks like they might snap my neck. This is also part of the appeal of watching these videos.
Unlike watching a horror movie, you know going in that everyone in these back cracking videos is going to be just fine. But, that doesn't make the anticipation if the impending crack any less exciting.