The Search For Validation In Social Networks: What Digital Tears Hide


New interaction dynamics significantly influence our mental health. The proliferation of social networks and the omnipresence of technology have brought with them a series of emerging psychological phenomena that deserve attention.

What is “sadfishing”?

The rise of sadfishing is just one example of how the intersection between technology and psychology is generating new pathologies that did not exist a few years ago. In the digital age, social media has transformed the way we communicate and share our experiences. However, this interconnectedness has also given rise to emerging psychological phenomena, one of which is “sadfishing.” This term describes the practice of posting emotionally charged or sad content online in order to gain attention and validation from other users.

The search for validation and emotional support is normal in humans, since we are little we are busy satisfying the wishes of our parents or caregivers in exchange for affection and attention, that validates us and gives us confidence, or not. This practice pursues that validation, but increased exponentially, therefore, the emotions are more desperate when instead of support we receive criticism. In this way, by sharing with followers, it is hoped that the feeling of loneliness resulting from our poorly handled emotional crises will disappear or at least reduce that pain.

I am referring to crises handled poorly because it is expected that when we emerge from a crisis the results will be different and that the final product will be better self-esteem, adequate management of our emotions and we turn out to be emotionally responsible for ourselves. A crisis, grief or well-crafted situation will leave us with a place of peace and introspection quite different from the degree of exposure to which sadfishing exposes us.

As we said, good comments can provide brief emotional relief by perceiving that we feel supported, but it can also have negative effects on long-term mental health. Overreliance on external validation can perpetuate a cycle of constant attention-seeking, leading to a feeling of emptiness and hopelessness when the response of others does not meet expectations. From grief, an attempt is made to emotionally mobilize viewers and thus capture their attention, sympathy or care. In this sense, we should not ignore the addictive component that this loop produces.

Different studies affirm that more than 90% of young people make excessive and almost addictive use of social networks, especially Instagram and Tik Tok. It is also known that the exercise of swiping the screen upwards, alone, generates the release of Dopamine. That is to say that in the end the content does not matter so much since the view of the Reels is rarely complete. It is known that the addictive nature is already somewhat conflictive, and is related to symptoms of anxiety, fatigue, reduction in sleep time and quality, low self-esteem, poor self-image and depression.

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And “catfishing”?

Another similar phenomenon is “catfishing.” This refers to the personality or image that a person adopts or “copies”, in this case with the purpose of having a positive impact on the other or being attractive. It is commonly a practice seen on social networks and dating applications. Thus, since people do not know each other in advance, it is easy for them to persuade their viewers through deception or manipulation.

The fact of creating our own narrative on social networks, and being who we invent to be, far from being who we really are, makes us become avatars of our own being or feeling, almost fictitiously putting together a virtual self that could convince us of that it is something real. Just like when watching a series or a movie we end up getting into character in such a way that we believe we are Spider-Man.

The roots of this situation lie at the origin of our childhood behaviors where the defense or tools against life’s difficulties were invented or taken from superheroes or something similar. The difficulty begins to arise when the addictive component that begins to modify our brain is added to this behavior that could be normal and expected as children.

People who suffer marked feelings of loneliness, I am not referring to normal feelings throughout our lives, since loneliness or the feeling that situations surpass us are typical of development and of living itself, in the event that these feelings are sporadic, I then refer to those feelings or emotions that overwhelm us too frequently.

It is likely that these subjects, who may be really young, turn, due to easy access, into an interaction network in which they believe they seek and obtain support. In general, we must understand that these are people with difficulties with their self-image and self-esteem, seeking validation from followers or their environment. Also the fact of feeling that the emotions of emptiness and the pain they produce and that nothing can cover, not even money, success or fame, is alleviated by this fashion that aims to fill in a fictitious way what must be solved by other means. which is not showing their followers an image that precisely matches how they would like to be seen. The “likes” and interactions of their followers reinforce these behaviors, for better and worse.

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Having good and bad times in life is almost the essence of human existence, however, learning to respond appropriately, maturely and efficiently requires a certain discipline and self-responsibility to find a healthy path to solving problems by creating or developing tools. that necessarily imply the knowledge and recognition of it, the skills and desire for a solution through less dopaminic paths, that is, those that merit satisfaction that is not so immediate but more long-term, understanding that the true value is that we are part of the problem and the solution. , of the vicissitudes of our own lives.


Social networks and constant validation

Not everything is good on the networks for the followers or promoters of sadfishing, they can also be accused of fraud and manipulation, everything is possible and knowing who is and who is not sincere with their statements is on the order of almost impossible. But the point is the devastating consequences that can result in media careers, professions or simply in the lives of those who practice these levels of exposure, which imply something very important in the constitution of mental health, which is the private and the public.

When these points come together, the limits are erased, and the learning of self-care goes unnoticed. On the Internet we find all types of people and the viewers can be children as well as young people and adults. Networks are weapons and as such they have their useful part and what is not. Understanding the value of limits in children comes from adults or caregivers, and in young people and adults it goes hand in hand with strengthening emotions and emotional responsibilities towards ourselves and those around us.

Saying I’m going to show that I’m vulnerable implies the misuse of words and their meaning while, I’m going through a moment of vulnerability makes you human, who doesn’t? Declaring that I am vulnerable is like declaring that I am depressed, I am a psychopath and I am just showing it to you, I think this is where the problem lies. I cannot glorify something that harms, if I am and I stay in that, I do nothing for myself or for others, if the intention is to help or empathize with those who suffer the same, the path is another where what should be considered is the search for a way out and the convenience of resorting to the help of someone who can really do it.

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Part of the origin of this behavior is when we are children and we get sick, for example, or we are unwell, and we are given a special place of tenderness, affection, or compensation, reinforcing the idea that this temporary difficulty or handicap somehow reinforces that this state is more than just being. A moment in time calls us to reinforce the idea of ​​obtaining extra attention from others. Of course, this is not the whole reason, but without realizing it we encourage reinforcement that children interpret as gaining more attention from their parents or caregivers.

The person who practices sadfishing appears completely vulnerable, but his content is also recorded, leaving a virtual trace, in this way he is exposed to the impact it has on his followers and also to the use they make of his emotional content.

Some advice to avoid finding yourself in these situations is to reduce time on social networks and be aware of how they are used by adults. Take care of the content that is published on social networks. Promote spaces for personal self-care and polish quality time for yourself and with others, cultivate a social support network, friends can help if they are not in the same exposure situation.



As we explore the vast seas of social media, it is essential to remember that behind every profile is a person, with their own struggles and vulnerabilities. Sadfishing and catfishing are just a few of the creatures lurking in these digital waters, showing the complexity of the intersection between technology and psychology.

By recognizing the impact these practices can have on our mental health, we can take steps to protect ourselves and others. By building genuine connections and cultivating a healthy relationship with technology and by not ignoring the price our mental health must pay by recognizing that we need help to value the true meaning and care that our psyche deserves.