Sadfishing 101

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As social media and the digital market have continued to evolve, as have individual’s content and profiles. Social media has encouraged vulnerability and outreach for those who use their platform to be personally authentic, in that way. However, this authenticity has been put into questioning with the new term and trend: sadfishing.

Sadfishing is a current, controversial social media phenomenon used to describe posting an exaggerated act to generate sympathy from followers or a public audience. These posts can look different for everyone, but for a stereotypical visualization, it’s the “end of the world” cryptic captions with tears running.

This trend has proven to hurt the population of people who find solace in addressing their personal adversities online.

Usually sadfishers are “serial” sadfishers, which takes away from the perceived severity of their struggles, creating dismissal from viewers. This becomes very confusing for friends and family, juggling between getting that person help or deciding to disregard.

Making Your Own Judgement

We’ve all scrolled past that one friend’s social media post where we couldn’t tell if they were looking for sympathy, or if something was seriously wrong.

That is why experts encourage people to always air on the side of caution. Dr. Jelena Kecmanovic, a clinical psychologist in Arlington, Va., urges that people take any alarming post seriously. She continues to note that “there is no way to really speculate intentions or decipher a crisis if you are not a mental health professional.”

Even celebrities are often criticized for posting with a certain rhetoric. Justin Beiber, earlier this year posted, “It’s hard to get out of bed in the morning when you are overwhelmed with your life.” Sadfishing can also be very subjective, it’s hard to know what any individuals intentions are, and the truth is — no matter what you post, someone’s going to have an opinion.

Reach out to any friend or person you see that may have posted something alarming or controversial. Use your best judgement to read the situation, and reach out to the proper authority that can maybe give that person the best help. Responding to mental health posts can influence someone in any direction. Do not dismiss someones feelings verbally with sayings like “it’s not that bad, come on” or “this is unnecessary.”

How Not to be Guilty of Sadfishing

Sharing feelings online can make someone feel empowered and supported. If you want to express yourself online without alarming your friends, be sure to clarify your message. The enigmatic captions in social media posts are the basis for a sadfishing post. You can also lead your post to mention that you are not in an immediate crisis, but need to release any negative feelings. By correctly leading your post, you can receive the right feedback and communication, which will be better for you anyway!

Sharing feels online can make someone feel worse. If you feel this way, maybe neglect social media as your outlet. Sometimes personal problems need personal attention. Find solace in therapy, a best friend or a good journal.


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