• Stacey Ulry

Sadfishing: Attention Seeking on Social Media


The other day I stumbled upon a somber social media post from a “friend” of mine.


After reading it, I sat back and contemplated the intent behind the post. Was something seriously wrong? Were they looking for help? Or were they searching for sympathy?


Maybe there was no deeper meaning, and they were simply letting the world in on their own thoughts.


Two days later I found myself talking with a family member about a friend of theirs.


Their friend often posts demeaning comments about himself and complains no one understands his struggles.


As a therapist now recognizing a pattern in human behavior, I was obviously curious and sought out the name of this phenomenon: “sadfishing.”


When individuals post emotional or dramatic personal information and thoughts- content on their social media to gain sympathy or attention- it is called sadfishing.


We’ve all heard the story of The Boy Who Cried Wolf, and probably have someone in our lives who does this very thing… frequently.


The big question I have is this: How are we supposed to know when someone is sadfishing or genuinely crying out for help?


I don’t think there’s a clear answer. It’s down to the individual person and situation- where no one explanation can suffice.