Updated: October 18, 2019 7:01:35 pm
If you have come across people online who post emotional content on social media to get attention and support from friends, you just witnessed an instance of “sadfishing”.
Recent surveys are now suggesting that not just adults but even children are resorting to sadfishing on social media. Among them, according to Tech Control Annual Report by HMC and Digital Awareness UK, troubled kids between the age of 11 and 16 look for emotional support online and feel worse when others call them out for seeking attention. It made them more vulnerable to manipulation. The trend can impact their mental health deeply.
While the origin of the word “sadfishing” is unclear, it is defined as the act of making exaggerated claims about emotional issues to gain sympathy. The concept came to notice after Justin Bieber and Kendall Jenner were reportedly found to practice sadfishing online.
Jelena Kecmanovic, clinical psychologist in Arlington, Virginia, however, told a health portal that there is no definitive way to tell if someone is truly in crisis, so any alarming post should not be ignored.
“If this person is typically dramatic and posts often in this manner, you’ll probably react differently than if the post is out of character and unusual. No matter what, if a friend talks seriously about hurting himself, check in and make sure he’s okay, or connect with mutual friends to find out if anyone else has already done so,” Shoshana Bennett, clinical psychologist from California, was quoted as saying.
Among the interviewees for the survey, one schoolboy, for instance, revealed he used Instagram to share his feelings about his disturbed life at home. “Sharing my feelings online has made me feel worse in some ways but supported in others,” he said in the report.
Before responding to one’s emotional social media post, parents and peers need to have an open conversation with the child. Tell them you saw their post and are concerned, Lindsey Giller, clinical psychologist, New York said. “It can be very reassuring to receive messages online from others who are compassionate,” added Bennett.
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