If you were ever skeptical about the cliche “boys have feelings too”, you might be intrigued to find that the sentiment is very much thriving in a lesser-known corner of Tiktok. Colloquially known as the ‘Sadboy’ community, these accounts are amassing huge followings of predominantly male teenagers, who seem to share one common feeling: angst.
Many of these ‘Sadboy’ accounts are named along the lines of ‘pain hub’ or ‘boys have feels too,’ which is unsurprising, considering the emotionally charged nature of their content. The majority of their TikTok’s share the same features. Typically, they will use a sad song slowed down for effect to enhance the melancholy mood of a depressing quote or emotional clip. However, the subject matter can range from breakups and unrequited love to battling issues of self-esteem and depression.
According to Wiktionary, the term sadboy or sadboi, is defined as ‘A young man who is open about his emotions, especially his feeling sad about failed relationships and unrequited love, and channels his sadness artistically.’ It seems then, that the massively popular video sharing app, Tiktok, has provided a new creative outlet for expressing these facets of the so-called sadboy condition.
Boys don’t cry – they scroll through TikTok
I spoke to Ben (not his real name), a follower of the account @mood_swings and several other ‘Sadboy’ Tiktok pages, to get a better idea of what draws so many young men to these types of videos:
‘Sometimes I resonate with a video when I’m feeling down,’ he stated. ‘[social media] allows men to be sad and upset, deal with their emotions, and also show that there are other people out there that feel like they do.
[…] there’s not really anywhere they can go where they feel comfortable talking about feelings […] I suppose it gives them somewhere to go where they can let themselves be sad.
When asked if there were any downsides to the ‘Sadboy’ trend, Ben also said:
‘It’s probably not healthy to just wallow in self-pity and they don’t really offer any help on how to not feel that way.’
A cry for help?
The comment section of a video like the one below is worrying; some users say that they are ‘struggling’, while others talk about the importance of staying ‘strong’ and speaking to friends.
Since studies have shown that male demographics are particularly at risk of suicidal ideation, and the effect of social media usage on young people’s lives is becoming more and more concerning, it begs the question: is the ‘Sadboy’ community on TikTok offering vulnerable teens a cathartic release, or is it exacerbating a passive, even harmful approach to mental wellbeing?
Despite these gray areas, one thing remains clear. The emergence of online communities, like Sadboy Tiktok, is ultimately highlighting the need for men and young people to express emotional vulnerability in safe and supportive spaces.
For more information on how to access mental health support, please refer to the links below: