Sadfishing, or the art of attracting attention through sadness

Appearing in tears can be more effective than showing your best side on social media. Explanations of this trend beneficial for some and problematic for others.

Social networks no longer serve only to make people envy by showing an idealized version of their life. Influencers and other celebrities are now using another way to grab attention: sharing their sadness on these platforms, whether it’s caused by a breakup, the loss of a loved one, or another reason. They no longer hesitate to show themselves in tears and unfiltered on social media to create engagement.

The success of this trend is explained by the fact that users appreciate this more authentic content, which brings influencers closer to them, shows that they too have difficulties, they are like everyone, in short. But users aren’t necessarily aware that celebrities can knowingly share these videos for their own benefit, sometimes even for marketing purposes. This trend is not new, it also has a name: it is what we call the sad peachor “looking for sadness”.

What is sad fishing?

The origin of this term dates back to January 2019. It was coined by London-based journalist Rebecca Reid, who defines it as using one’s emotional problems to engage an audience on the Internet. “The anglers of sadness maximize the drama of their situation to build engagement on social media. It’s the emotional equivalent of clickbait “explained in an article by Adorn.

This expression was created in connection with Kendall Jenner. In early January 2019, her mother Kris Jenner announced that she would soon reveal her to “heavy secret”, with a video teaser in which her daughter indicated that she was ready to talk about a topic without naming it. Many Internet users therefore got worried and wondered what this famous secret was. The model later revealed that she had been suffering from acne since her teens in a post sponsored by Proactiv, a skin care brand she became the new ambassador for.

Sadfishing continues to pay off, attracting engagement or advertisers. In November 2021, model Bella Hadid posted a series of photos on Instagram in which she looked natural, with wet eyes, stating in the caption that “Social networks are not real”. The result: over 2.5 million likes and almost 23,000 comments, while several of his publications on social media have not exceeded the threshold of one million “likes”. As for marketing, actress Lili Reinhart of Riverdalewho has repeatedly talked about her mental health (anxiety, depression) on Instagram, partnered with a dietary supplement brand, and promoted her gummy candies that are said to reduce stress symptoms.

A problem of authenticity

Sadfishing raises the question of authenticity on social networks. With influencers it is not easy to know if they spontaneously share their pains or if they do it to generate engagement and for marketing purposes. “The problem with influencers is the same, often, that they have something to sell, so we can always ask ourselves the question: when they cry, when there is a breakup, it is: what do they sell us handkerchiefs, they avenge them … I don’t know, foundation That won’t work if we cry “Vanessa Lalo, a psychologist specializing in digital practices, explained in a video of the media Brut.

The question of authenticity arises all the more as celebrities aren’t the only ones to engage in sadfishing. Ordinary people also show up in tears on platforms to build engagement. “Trying to get people to care about you to get attention when you’re normal, or money and popularity when you’re a celebrity, is a shame.”Rebecca Reid explained. According to the reporter, individuals can, for example, put “I’m so sick of it all” as been on Facebook with no explanation to get attention.

The problem is that people who actually express their discomfort on social networks find themselves accused of sadfishing. A Digital Awareness report released in October 2019 revealed that children sought emotional support by talking about their problems on the internet, but didn’t get the answer they wanted. Worse still, they were likely to be harassed by Internet users. “I was feeling really depressed the other day while I was dealing with some problems at home. I was alone, so I thought I’d post it on Instagram, just to let people know how I was. Many people have commented and” liked “mine. post, but some said I was looking for sadness the next day at school. Sharing my feelings made me feel worse in some ways, but supported in others “for example, explained a 12-year-old boy.

Another problem: these young people are likely to be the target of predators, who try to persuade them to abuse them sexually. They can use comments that express the need for emotional support to connect with these people and earn their trust.

A filter to “show your sadness”

On the other hand, it appears that social media is following the sadfishing trend. In early May, Snapchat introduced a filter that allows users to pretend to cry when they don’t. The principle is simple: the more the person laughs, the more they seem to cry. Although it comes from Snapchat, you can use this filter to take photos or record videos and post them on other social networks like Instagram or TikTok. It went viral on platforms, making viewers laugh with videos like that of a photographer known as @fablesinfocus who seems to burst into tears when her daughter asks her for a chip. It has been viewed over 20,000 times and garnered 2.7 million likes and 15,000 comments.

Some people even thought Snapchat was inspired by Amber Heard during her trial against Johnny Depp. As she collapsed during her testimony in early May, fans of the actor struggled to believe it, talking about crying “without tears.” Some even said she was a bad actress. Faced with these rumors, a Snapchat spokesperson told the site TMZ that the filter had been in development for six months, well before Amber Heard’s testimony.

Whether natural or with a filter, this tendency to show up in tears on social networks is a way to show off on these platforms, just like flaunting your good life. It causes a blur between what’s authentic and what’s not, sometimes to the detriment of people actually showing up on these apps.

Leave a Comment