Most people with an online presence or who have used dating apps know what catfishing is. It is when someone pretends to be someone they are not to establish a relationship with another. But have you heard of the spin-off term of catfishing, sadfishing?
What Is Sadfishing?
The term sadfishing was first coined by Rebecca Reid in an article she wrote for the UK publication Grazia. As the article simply states, sadfishing is the emotional equivalent of clickbait. Sadfishing an attention-seeking tactic where a person makes up or exaggerates what they are experiencing to gain attention and sympathy online. These people are “fishing for sympathy” from anyone including friends, family, or strangers.
Sadfishing can have some positive effects like being able to relate with others and having your voice heard. However, it can also lead to harassment from trolls and cyberbullies.
However, why do people sadfish in the first place? Well, it’s often because the person suffers from some mental health problems like anxiety and depression. This is especially among young people and teenagers online. It’s typical for them to post about their hardship to gain emotional support from others when their parents aren’t listening.
This behavior typically occurs on social media platforms and is common among high-profile figures and celebrities. Some see it as an effective way to gain likes, shares, and followers on their social media posts. For example, in 2019, Justin Bieber shared with his followers on Instagram that, “It’s hard to get out of bed in the morning when you are overwhelmed with your life.” This Instagram post got 3+ million likes to date.
3 Signs Someone Is Sadfishing
1. Exaggerated Social Media Posts and Text Messages
As we stated previously, people who sadfish exaggerate their stories and what they’re experiencing to gain sympathy. For example, they may create a novel-long post of a story when it’s unnecessary. If you see someone on your social media feed doing this or are receiving texts of this nature, this person is sadfishing you.
2. Sharing and Posting Sad Content
Those who are sadfishing online often suffer from mental health problems. With this, they will frequently share sad content from others or post original content that implies they are feeling sad. The content could be anything from sad news stories to quotes.
3. Telling Raw and Personal Stories Online
This form of sadfishing is commonly used among high-profile figures, celebrities and influencers looking to gain likes and followers. According to Captiv8, Influencers see an increase of 7 to 10 times the level of engagement when posting about mental-health issues than they do with more mundane posts.
However, their motivations for posting such content aren’t always about increasing social media popularity. Often, they do so to make people aware of mental health issues they personally have or are suffering from. Normal online users may share personal stories, so they can connect with others who are going through something similar.
How To Help Those Who Are Sadfishing
Avoid Engaging With Such Content Online
Engaging with sadfishing posts only fuels the person’s need for emotional support. Unless you personally connect with the person’s situation and you believe your words will help, avoid engaging with such content. It will only encourage them to continue publishing such content online.
Directly Contact and Talk With Them
If the person who is sadfishing is someone you know or is your child, directly talk with them. Make it clear you are there for them if they need help, someone to talk to, or a shoulder to cry on. Explain that it is healthier to talk to someone they are close with than to post their problems on social media.
Monitor Their Social Media Accounts
If you are highly concerned for the person or it is your child, closely monitor their social media accounts. This includes their posts, followers, and comments. For parents, you may want to consider using parental monitoring software to keep an eye on their messages as well.