Photo by Patrice Alsteen
I learned a new term today: “sadfishing“. To quote Urban Dictionary, sadfishing is “The practice of writing about one’s unhappiness or emotional problems on social media, especially in a vague way, in order to attract attention and sympathetic response.”
In other words, posting a lot of moody, sad pictures, woe-is-me out of context messages, and so forth, but never actually coming right out and saying “PAY ATTENTION TO ME”.
Sadfishing is hitting the news all over the place lately, and a lot of the media coverage is focusing on the “when you sadfish, you’re giving bullies ammunition, so don’t” aspect. When celebrities are seen “sadfishing”, they’re trying to get attention and impressions; when a kid in the ninth grade does it, it’s probably more of a genuine cry for help from someone in emotional turmoil, but that doesn’t mean that the class asshole is going to be Mister Sensitive and treat it that way.
As an admitted attention-seeker, I can certainly understand where the urge to sadfish might come from. You want the attention, but you don’t want to be seen wanting attention. And I’ll grant that if social media had been a thing when I was in high school and college, I’d probably have sadfished with the best of them. Was I depressed all the time? Yes. Did I want sympathy and attention? You bet.
But I’m not a teenager now (I’m 52) and I’d really rather not be seen as acting like one. And that’s why I’ve tried to avoid posting much of anything on Facebook and Twitter for some time now; I know how mawkish and pathetic I tend to get and it’s better not to post anything at all given how messed up my brain typically is.
However, as some of you have noticed, from time to time I post woe-is-me blog entries where I apologize for everything under the sun and all but do a “GOODBYE CRUEL WORLD I WON’T BE POSTING ANY MORE” thing. If that comes across as excessively over-the-top attention-seeking behavior, I’m sorry. It probably is. I kind of wish I could take back those blog entries and just disappear.
Is it sadfishing when you explicitly say “Boy, I’m depressed and I’m sorry for how badly I’ve behaved over the years?” I’d argue that it’s not — you have to be trying to be subtle and acting like you’re not trying to be noticed.
Is it, on the other hand, pathetic to moan and groan overtly about how awful you are in blog entry after blog entry?
Newsflash: I’m pathetic.