“卖” literally means to sell, and “惨” means sadness. Together, the word is the Chinese equivalent of sadfishing.
Like sadfishing, “卖惨” is the practice of writing about one’s unhappiness or emotional problems on social media, especially in a vague way, in order to attract attention and sympathetic responses. The craze has been fuelled by celebrities who have been accused of posting exaggerated claims about their problems to generate sympathy and draw attention.
A: 你看了昨晚的才艺大赛了吗? 我真不明白为什么冠军是那个女孩。她的表现很一般啊。
Nǐ kānle zuówǎnde cáiyì dà sài le ma? Wǒ zhēnbù míngbai wèishénme guànjūn shì nàge nǚhái. Tāde biǎoxiàn hěn yībān a.
Did you watch the talent show last night? I don’t understand why that girl won the top title. Her performance was poor.
Shìma? Wǒ hái tǐng tóngqíng tā de. Tāde rénshēng gùshi tàicǎnle, zhēn ràngrén gǎndòng.
Really? I kind of have sympathy for her. The story about the hardships really moved me.
Nàshì màicǎn. Zhèyàng duì qítā xuǎnshǒu bùgōngpíng.
Oh, that’s just sadfishing. It’s unfair for the other competitors.