What Is ‘Sadfishing’ and Why Are Teens Doing It?

written by Kristina Behr, posted on Parents

Social media is often an integral part of teenage life. But what was once a simple way to stay connected with friends and family, has now evolved into a medium where distinguishing the real from the fake amid alarming trends has become increasingly difficult.

One such trend, sadfishing, is raising concern, particularly among teenagers. The term, which researchers defined in the Journal of American College Health in 2021, refers to social media users who “exaggerate their emotional state online to generate sympathy.” It could be in the form of a sad photo, an ominous quote, or a vague post.

Journalist Rebecca Reid coined the term in 2019 after a questionable Instagram post by Kendall Jenner. In the post, Jenner described a “debilitating struggle” with acne and received a large amount of sympathetic responses from her followers. However, it was later revealed her post was just an elaborate marketing scheme for her skincare partnership with Proactiv, and Reid labeled her behavior as sadfishing.

We all may be guilty of posting something vulnerable and emotional on social media from time to time, which isn’t a bad thing. But excessive posting could be a sign of a larger mental health issue in teens or a cry for help.