Going offline

By Yana Georgieva

The online world has revolutionised modern society and people’s everyday lives are influenced by it everyday. Being online has become so normal that it is sometimes hard to separate the virtual from the personal. Can we still rediscover life from before we were online?

Kalina Todorova, a 23-year-old student, made a drastic decision five years ago. She decided to quit social media: “I honestly feel like a completely different person.” Kalina explains that she wasted no time when she made the decision. Instead of taking baby steps and feeling the water she simply deleted all her social media accounts. “I am so happy I managed to stick to it. It wasn’t easy at first, it’s not at all what the blogs I had been reading were saying,” Kalina says.

One of the main reasons that urged Kalina to quit social media was her mental health: “I was not in a good place. Being so obsessed with everything on the internet, be it fake or real, took its toll on me,” explains Kalina. She says that unplugging led to little changes in her behaviour that further contributed to building positive habits that helped her be happier, more productive, and fall in love with herself. 

The expectations were completely different than how Kalina felt on her journey. There is no sudden feeling of enlightenment or complete inner peace and self-love, when a person stops paying attention to likes and follows. “I still feel lonely and self-conscious,” Kalina says. 

A joke that led to getting offline

The 54-years-old Olga Dimitrova decided to delete her social media accounts eight years ago. It was her husband and daughter who kept joking about the amount of time she spends on Facebook, that made Olga think of her online behaviour. “I was spending an excessive amount of my free time on Facebook. Even more than my teenage daughter,” Olga says. “I could scroll through my feed, commenting on pictures and posts for hours.”

When Olga decided to get off every social media, she had mixed feelings. She felt anxious, isolated and often bored. Her love for music was one of the first things that pushed her to start coming up with different distractions: “Since then, I’ve also started meditating and doing yoga, I also have a beautiful garden I take care of and have recently gotten into growing my own vegetables.”

Although she no longer misses social media, Olga says she would not mind getting back online, now that she knows how to better manage her time and prioritize her hobbies.

Social media and depression 

Ekaterina Ivanova, a clinical psychologist working primarily with women aged 14-65, explains that the prolonged use of social networking websites such as Facebook could lead to signs and symptoms of depression and other psychiatric disorders. “Social media is responsible for aggravating mental health problems,” Ekaterina says. She states that research has shown that age does not have an effect, but gender does. Females are more prone to mental disorders triggered by social media than men. “Social media and influencers put a lot of pressure on people by creating an unrealistic image and stereotyping ‘users’ into becoming what others want to see,” Ekaterina explains. The extent to which the use of social media and its impact affects us is yet to be determined.