Although the term “sadfishing” may be new to you, it is nothing new in the world of adolescents. While this tendency has been around for a while, you may already be aware of it because of social media. Exaggerating one’s emotional state for the purpose of eliciting sympathy or attention is known as “sadfishing.” Learn more about sadfishing, explained by a teenager.
Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook status updates are the most common places to see this trending. Sadfishing may be a dangerous echo chamber for teenagers to become caught in, as it generally capitalizes on feelings of hopelessness and negativity.
“I’m ready to simply give up,” and “The sadness is too great, and I just can’t take it any longer” were common Facebook posts when I was 14. But I wasn’t going to tell anyone I was depressed in person. To get attention, I turned to social media rather than contacting someone or asking for aid, because it was so much easier than doing it face to face.
In my experience, sadfishing isn’t unique, and I’d like to help parents recognize it, understand why their child is engaging in it, as well as learn how to respond.
Sadfishing is a common occurrence among teenagers, but why?
There is a reason why teens publish songs that are clearly dismal, share their thoughts on life and death, or even refer to self-harm and suicidal thoughts: they want your attention. In certain cases, this is a veiled plea for assistance. Many of you can identify with the reality that confronting the truth, especially when it makes us appear weak, vulnerable, or reliant, may be a terrifying experience.
If your adolescent is making alarming statements on social media, it’s time to get them evaluated by a professional. There’s a chance they’re seeking sympathy. Connection and acknowledgment from others are typically an underlying need for many people. But that’s what makes sadfishing on social media so dangerous; kids rarely get the positive results they hope for when they seek recognition on social media.
Because not all kids who engage in sadfishing are truly in need of help, it might be difficult to understand why they do it. There are those who go out of their way to get attention for no other reason than that. If you’ve ever been the victim of “catfishing,” where a person claims they are someone else in order to start a connection online, you’ll know that sadfishing can be just as damaging.
Sadfishing might weaken the validity of emotional claims because so many kids are sharing their real and sometimes exaggerated feelings online. Because they are less likely to be taken seriously in an emergency than “The Boy Who Cried Wolf,” teenagers who regularly publish exaggerated information on social media are also less likely to receive the mental health care they require. Those in need of assistance are often buried in the commotion.
As an example, as a teenager, I used to write sad poems about sadness and self-harming thoughts and share them on social media. People in my regular life didn’t check on my mental health, so I used sadfishing as a means to communicate that I wasn’t feeling well. However, I didn’t know how to ask for assistance because I was struggling.
The only way I could reach out to others about my condition was through social media. However, I remember a number of my high school classmates threatening to kill themselves on social media. My true screams for aid did not elicit any concern from many of them, who saw these posts as an attention-seeker and a joke.
When a teen romanticizes or capitalizes on their terrible life circumstances, they trivialize the gravity of the problems they encounter with mental health. When people see posts about despair and anxiety, their eyes glaze over and they don’t want to help.
Through the practice of “sadifishing,” social media becomes a potentially dangerous place for young people to fall prey to bad thought patterns, which can lead to physical and psychological harm. Sadfishing blurs the line between exaggerated emotions and becoming immersed by them, providing the possibility for youth to develop mental health disorders as a result of this practice.
Is There Anything Parents Can Do?
Fortunately, sadfishing is a condition that may be remedied quickly. As a first step, monitor your teen’s social media activities to look for indicators of sadfishing and false thought patterns that may indicate a problem. Keep an eye on your teen’s social media activity and engage in regular conversations with him or her about what’s going on. In the event that you find posts that concern you, don’t hesitate to ask your kid if they need assistance.
In theory, it’s possible that some teens have a hidden Instagram account called a “finsta” on which they post their more intimate ideas. You can talk about sadfishing even if you don’t know exactly what your adolescent is posting on Facebook.
Having this open line of communication lets your adolescent know that they can turn to you if they are experiencing depression or feeling overburdened. It will also teach kids how to respond if they observe a friend in distress. Talking to your teen about sadfishing and other social media issues can strengthen your connection, but it can also give them the tools they need to help others by spreading awareness and accountability on social media.
Keep in mind that sadfishers are merely trying to get your attention. In order to help your kid understand the affect that sadfishing has on them as well as their audience, it is important to be open and honest with them. It’s important, though, that you don’t get angry or make the conversation about yourself and how their behaviors may reflect on you or your parenting.
Consider consulting a professional like a doctor or a counselor if the problem is significant. This is crucial if a teen ever admits to needing assistance. To the extent possible, allow them to make the decision.
It all comes down to this:
If your children ever feel the need for assistance, they should know that they can turn to you. People should be aware of how their social media portrays them, and most importantly, that mental health is not something to be taken lightly. Offer your support and let your kid know you are willing and able to get help if they are actually suffering from mental health concerns.
Make sure they know you’re there to support them and encourage them to express their feelings in healthy ways like journaling, talking to someone, or exercising. Parents have to help their child change their thinking, evaluate their feelings and establish a closer bond. Take advantage of this opportunity since you never know when your help could save a life.