Sadfishing: Sharing Deeply Emotional Posts On Social Media Might Just Be A Sign Of Deep Psychological Issue

The world is doing it and most importantly they are covering their emotional rant really well. If you’re confused about what we are going to direct towards then one of the most recent examples include Kendall Jenner’s series of emotionally charged Instagram posts in which she shared her experiences of struggling with acne. The 24-year-old model may have been honest but people online accused her of doing ‘sadfishing’, right after they saw the posts being a part of paid skincare brand partnership.

“Sadfishing” is a more recent term introduced by writer Rebecca Reid and it stands up for the people’s act of fishing for gaining sympathy online - however the material is always positive, emotional and on a personal level with which people could relate to.

But unfortunately, in reality sadfishing is getting all the criticism as it is often perceived as attention seeking technique on social media, which eventually belittles the impact of content too. Even if any of the politicians or entertainers are being honest, people are just not ready to read, hear or believe them.

Since the term of sadfishing is relatively new so it is rather becoming difficult to examine the behaviors. However, parallels can be drawn between sadfishing and attention seeking, where the later gets separated because of how it is associated with low self-esteem, loneliness, narcissism, or Machiavellianism.

Moreover, sadfishing is creating a big confusion with regards to the motivations of notable personalities behind posting about important or sensitive issues. Even if they really want to talk about it with their followers or audience, the impression generally comes up as them attempting to gain engagement. That being said, we can side up with the fact that some sadfishing posts have actually taken over the genuine ones and are actually making celebrities being a target of online abuse as well.

Attention Seeking & Sad Fishing

The comparison leads us to one of the most useful recent research which is based on observers observing the online abuse that celebrity tweets or Instagram posts got in the name of sadfishing. The participants were asked about whether the celebrities were to be blamed for any kind of hate they got upon posting emotional and negative content.

The results of the study came up as a surprise as participants told that the severity of abuse online entirely depended upon how strongly the posts exhibited narcissism, Machiavellianism, or psychopathy – the so-called “dark triad” among celebrities. The ones who had higher dark triad received less sympathy. The trait for them also clarified between whether a person is a sadfisher or not.


If we see the attention seeking behavior in the real world, sadfishing reflects as a personality disorder. For instance histrionic personality disorder is recognized by high levels of attention seeking that start from early adulthood. Such people are more dramatic and long for approval or appreciation.

Recognizing sadfishers on the other hand might just be hard, unless and until they don’t tell about it themselves. We all can expect the accusations to be incorrect especially when one’s intentions have always been to reach out for genuine support instead of gaining more attention.

In fact this leads to worst case scenarios where the ones who are wrongly accused of sadfishing fall into the trap of experiencing lower self esteem, anxiety or even shame. Such people also struggle to get help from family, friends or community around them then.

The consequences are also a silent message to all the people who do sadfishing deliberately. Their actions can impact the well being of others - even their followers. When they talk about serious health concerns, their words can give readers mental or physical stress. Although you can use social media to stand as a support for other people by genuinely talking about the issue but disingenuous posts always end up doing more harm than good.

So, it’s high time that social media users should think carefully about things they want to talk about, initiatives that celebs want to be a part of and information that they want to share.


Photo: Cultura/C. Ditty / Getty Images

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