The Brief: Sadfishing refers to when someone exaggerates their sadness, struggle or emotional turmoil on social media as a ploy for attention.


Sadfishing, which is not to be confused with catfishing, specifically refers to expressions of hardship that are inauthentic. People may engage in sadfishing in search of attention, clout, likes, or even financial gain. This practice may obscure or make others suspicious of people who are actually struggling and may go online for help or support.

A major issue with sadfishing is that it’s difficult to discern when someone is being deceptive or actually trying to ask for help. While behavior may be labeled as sadfishing, it could be a genuine manifestation of someone who is struggling with mental health or other issues.

Whether or not someone’s emotions may be exaggerated, a cry for attention is often an indication that someone needs support. Sadfishing may be indicative of a larger problem in which young people and teenagers turn to social media as an outlet for sharing their emotions and problems. Although social media has many supportive networks where people can find help, many online spaces fester bullying or may not have systems in place for people to get the support they need.

As teenagers may feel that the only safe place to share their mental health struggles is their finsta, Twitter, or Tumblr, it’s important that support systems exist both on these platforms and IRL.