Rapt attention

Friday, September 8, 2023

One fish, two fish, sad fish, blue fish...


I read a new word for me this morning, sadfishing. What is it?

In a research paper published in the Journal of American College Health in 2021, researchers defined sadfishing as “a tendency of social media users to publish exaggerations of their emotional states to generate sympathy.”

Now this one hits a bit close to home for me, considering I have given you a four year blow by blow on my cancer struggles and whatever other thing I can find to whine or bitch about.

The moniker was actually coined in reference to a celebrity who was trying to make a little money off her tsoris on the side. 

As with most things, sadfishing was first recognized as a “thing” after a celebrity did it; journalist Rebecca Reid coined the phrase when Kendall Jenner opened up about her “debilitating” struggle with acne, which fans later realized was part of a marketing ploy for her partnership with the skin care brand Proactiv.

I make no money off my complaining and my acne is mostly in check so my sadfishing is probably a little less venal than Kendall Jenner's, but who knows? If I can recoup off some of this misery in the future, you can bet your sweet a$$ I will.


Honestly, it is an important question, how much emotional sharing is too much and is it a plea for sympathy of some kind? People get very twisted in this world over their social media identity and connections, sometimes to the detriment of their tangible friends and family. Likes and views have turned into a serious motivation, behaviorally speaking.

But it is also true that many good and valid friendships can be made and fostered in cyberspace, that have as much or more value than any of the others might.

I was told long ago that the first rule is not to poop anybody else's party, have to remember that. Everybody has their own set of problems, why the hell fixate on mine?

And I hate to carp but sometimes it is just plain fun to flounder. Until things get too fishy anyway. Or crappie.

1 comment:

Jon Harwood said...

I think sadfishing is different than the emotional sharing you do on Blue Heron.

I have a sadfisher relative who posts intense reports about her maladies. After years of shifting from malady to malady she settled on severe repetitive migraines. Now she can post pictures of her IV shunt as she gets infusions for migraines. A perfect choice for the sadfisher as they are undetectable by external observers. I know others who regurgitate their intense suffering in a similar way.

You share but not in an attention seeking manipulative way beyond the occupational hazard of writers. All art is autobiographical. That can make you feel you are oversharing, however, your sharing seems like working to make words become art. For that activity, one needs reliable subject matter. Writers for 6000 years or so have used their experiences (exaggerated or not) as subject matter. You might as well also.