What is ‘Sadfishing’ trend prevalent on social media?

A girl going through her smartphone
‘Sadfishing’ has become a trend these days on social media

We all have that one person in our social media circle who loves to post cryptic and emotional status/stories, often with quotes about self-worth or vague hints at karma targeting someone anonymous. This attention and sympathy-seeking behaviour is being called by academic researchers as “sadfishing”. 

The term ‘Sadfishing’ was first coined by journalist Rebecca Reid in 2019 while describing Kendall Jenner’s seemingly vulnerable social media post about acne, which later turned out to be a marketing campaign. According to Reid, people who ‘sadfish’ often exaggerate about their problems in an attempt to get sympathy from others. 

However, Ms Reid has also expressed her concern that “sadfishing,” originally intended to criticise calculated inauthenticity, might now be unintentionally discouraging genuine expressions of vulnerability online. “Lots of us sadfish sometimes, and that’s okay. Attention seeking is a legitimate thing. There’s nothing wrong with wanting attention,” she told the Independent. 

Rebecca Reid has emphasised on the point that while expressing emotions and vulnerability is totally okay, ‘Sadfishing’ specifically calls out the act of manipulating others’ emotions for personal gain. In a paper published in the Journal of American College, Behavioural specialist and researcher Cara Petrofes reinterpreted ‘Sadfishing’ as “a tendency of social media users to publish exaggerations of their emotional states to generate sympathy.” 

“Sadfishing may not be triggered by an acute perceived lack of social support, but rather, may be more strongly related to the persistent trait of anxious attachment,” added Cara Petrofes. 

A few months back, Indian model Poonam Pandey was widely criticised  and accused of manipulation when she falsely posted the news of her death to only reveal days later that she did this publicity stunt as a way to raise awareness about cervical cancer. 

Saurab is a seasoned journalist with a knack for uncovering the heart of a story. With years of experience in investigative reporting, Saurab specializes in bringing depth and context to current events. Their commitment to truth and accuracy ensures readers are always well-informed