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You OK, Hun? Psychologists Have Found Out Why Some People 'Sad-Fish'

There's a reason why some people take to social media to seek sympathy
There's a reason why some people take to social media to seek sympathy

There's a reason why some people take to social media to seek sympathy

“Oh my god you just can’t trust some people.”

“Onwards and upwards - I deserve better.”

“Snakes everywhere.”

Do any of these seem familiar from your Facebook timeline? A cryptic status which causes comment after comment of ‘Everything okay babe?’ to come rolling in?

Or maybe you know this behaviour in the shape of an inspirational yet somewhat mysterious quote shared on an Instagram story?

Well, psychologists actually have a term for this behaviour - “sad-fishing”.

What’s more, a new study has uncovered why some people partake in this sort of behaviour online and looks into whether it’s an attention-seeking measure or a cry for help.

New research published in the Journal of American College Health defines sad-fishing as “a tendency of social media users to publish exaggerations of their emotional states to generate sympathy”.

The term was actually first coined by journalist Rebecca Reid after Kendall Jenner opened up about her “debilitating” struggle with acne – which turned out to be a part of a marketing ploy for a skincare brand.

Researcher Cara Petrofes and her colleagues found that those who partake in sad-fishing behaviour might be more likely to have an anxious attachment style – meaning that the person in questions presents behaviours that reflect concerns about abandonment or the strength of relationships.

The research team wrote: “If an individual reports a more anxious attachment style, they may also be more likely to report a greater tendency to manipulate others in their quest to form a relationship or bond.”

So, is it just attention seeking? Well, not exactly.

According to the study, engaging in sad-fishing may leave individuals vulnerable to rejection when they do seek help - so although it might seem a bit over the top or odd, the person in question could be seriously needing support.

The other issue is that when social media consumers become desensitised to these sorts of cries for help, those who need help may not get it.

Our advice? If you care about someone, send them that DM, just in case.

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