Appearing in tears can be more effective than flaunting your best self on social media. Interpretations of this trend are useful for some and problematic for others.
Social networks are no longer used only to provoke envy by showing an idealized version of one’s life. Influencers and other celebrities are now using another way to get attention: share their grief on these platforms, whether it’s because of a breakup, the loss of a loved one, or some other reason. They no longer hesitate to show themselves in tears and without filters on social networks to create commitment.
The success of this trend can be explained by the fact that users appreciate this more original content, which brings influencers closer to them, and shows that they also face difficulties, like everyone else, in short. But users are not necessarily aware that celebrities may knowingly share these videos for their own benefit, sometimes even for marketing purposes. This trend isn’t new, it just has a name: it’s what we call Sorrowor “sad hunting”.
What is sad fishing?
The term has its origins in January 2019. It was coined by London-based journalist Rebecca Read, who defines it as using an individual’s emotional issues to attract an audience on the Internet. “Sad hunters are maximizing the drama of their situation to create interaction on social media. It is the emotional equivalent of tempting clicks”explained in an article by beauty.
This expression was created in connection with Kendall Jenner. In early January 2019, her mother Kris Jenner announced that she would soon reveal her “heavy secret”In a teaser video, her daughter indicated her willingness to talk about a topic without naming it. After that, many Internet users worried and wondered what this famous secret was. The model later revealed that she has struggled with acne since her teenage years in a post sponsored by Proactiv, the skin treatment brand that has become its new ambassador.
Sadfishing continues to pay off, attracting interaction or advertisers. In November 2021, supermodel Bella Hadid posted a series of photos on Instagram, in which she appeared natural, with wet eyes, captioned: ‘Social media is not real’. The result: more than 2.5 million likes and almost 23,000 comments, while many of his posts on the social network did not exceed the one million “likes” mark. On the marketing side, actress Lili Reinhart Riverdalewho has spoken frequently about her mental health (anxiety and depression) on Instagram, has partnered with a nutritional supplement brand and promoted chewing gum that is said to reduce symptoms of stress.
Sadfishing raises the question of credibility on social networks. With influencers, it is not easy to know if they are automatically sharing their grief or if they are doing so in order to generate engagement and for marketing purposes. “The problem with influencers is the same, often, that they have something to sell, so we can always ask ourselves the question: When they cry, when there is a breakup, is – what do they sell us wipes for, do they sell us… I don’t know, the foundation that won’t work If we cry?”Vanessa Lalo, a psychologist specializing in digital practices, explained in a video from MediaProt.
The issue of authenticity is even more prominent because celebrities are not the only ones who engage in grief hunting. Ordinary people also appear to cry on platforms to create engagement. “Trying to make people worry about you for attention when you’re normal, or money and fame when you’re a celebrity, is a sad catch.”Rebecca Reed explained. According to the journalist, individuals can, for example, put “I’m tired of everything” As a status on Facebook without any explanation to draw attention.
The problem is that people who are already expressing their plight on social networks find themselves accused of sad hunting. A report from Digital Awareness published in October 2019 revealed that children were seeking emotional support by talking about their problems online, but they did not get the response they wanted. Even worse, they are likely to be harassed by internet users. “I was really depressed that day as I was having some issues at home. I was on my own, so I thought I was going to post this on Instagram, just to let people know what I was doing. Several people commented on my post and “liked it,” but some He said I was grief hunting the next day at school. Sharing my feelings made me feel worse in some ways, but supported in other ways”For example, explain to a 12-year-old.
Another problem: these young men are likely to be the target of predators who seek to persuade them to sexually assault them. They can use comments that express a need for emotional support to connect with these people and gain their trust.
Filter “to show your sadness”
On the other hand, social media seems to be following the sad catch trend. In early May, Snapchat introduced a filter that allows users to pretend they’re crying when they’re not. The principle is simple: the more a person laughs, the more he seems to cry. Although it originated from Snapchat, this filter can be used to take photos or record videos and then post them on other social networks like Instagram or TikTok. It has gone viral on the platforms, making viewers laugh with videos like that of a photographer known as fablesinfocus who appears to cry when her daughter asks her to fry. It has been viewed more than 20,000 times and has 2.7 million likes and 15,000 comments.
Some people also believe that Snapchat was inspired by Amber Heard during her trial against Johnny Depp. As she broke down during her testimony in early May, fans of the actress found it hard to believe, speaking of crying “without tears.” Some even said she was a bad actress. In the face of these rumors, a Snapchat spokesperson told the site TMZ That the candidate had been in development for six months, long before Amber Heard’s testimony.
Whether it’s natural or using a filter, this tendency to appear in tears on social networks is a way to show off on these platforms, just like flaunting your beautiful life. It creates confusion between what is authentic and what is not, sometimes at the expense of the people who really show themselves in these apps.