Why I quit social media

This is a personal article because I would like to explain why I kind of disappeared between Christmas 2022 and the end of March 2023. Well, with the exception of publishing “Karina hat eine Mission” at the end of January. 

I started with Learn German with Stories in late 2020 and was convinced that I’d need social media to reach people and grow. I even hired two virtual assistants to help me with social media tasks (not at the same time) and thought about starting a YouTube channel although I hate videos. In September 2022, I purchased a rather expensive online course that promises to help teachers and creators to be successful on social media. I should have known better. Did I mention that I’m not a fan of online courses because I find books much more useful? I guess I’ll write another article about that topic. 

I felt guilty and angry because I never managed to post regularly on social media and engage with people. I’m an introvert and this kind of engagement seemed pointless to me. If you were in my Facebook group, you may remember my rather helpless efforts that never lasted long. 

For almost three months, I was extremely ambivalent about how to continue. Give it another try with social media or stop completely? My online course gave a lot of apparently good advice and it seemed to be necessary. But at the same time, I felt increasingly uncomfortable with my behavior as a private person. I disliked social media but I couldn’t stay away from it. I wasted lots of precious time scrolling through my private Facebook and Twitter timelines. Eventually, I installed a Chrome extension and no longer allowed myself to access certain websites between 9am and 6pm. That certainly included Facebook, Instagram and Twitter but also German news websites and Netflix. I have to admit that I removed the extension twice in the beginning because I wanted to look something up and couldn’t. But then, I stuck to it and it was the first game changer. I still do live lessons with some students four days a week and that’s in the evening while I’m in Europe. Well, and when I have the choice between scrolling up and down a social media timeline and watching a Netflix series or documentary after my lessons, I prefer the last one. That meant that my evenings became pretty free of social media. I never used Facebook or Twitter on my phone and that certainly helped. 

In February/March 2023, I spent one month on the small Italian island of Lipari. At that time of the year, there were hardly any tourists. I made friends with some locals and took long walks in nature. And I bought a book: Stolen Focus: Why you can’t pay attention – and how to think deeply again. This book and the Netflix documentary “The Social Dilemma” were the final game changers. There was nothing totally new in them but they made me realize that it’s not just me who feels helpless and manipulated. People who worked at those big tech companies in Silicon Valley feel the same and sense that something is deeply wrong. These companies steal our time because that’s how they make money and at the same time, we’re less and less able to focus on just one task at a time. 

I talked to a Brazilian friend who quit Facebook and Instagram both privately and professionally about two years ago and asked her how she did it, what happened and if she ever regretted it. Well, she said it was the best decision of her life. She’s still reachable by WhatsApp and email and that’s enough. I totally believed her because installing that Chrome extension already increased my quality of life significantly. All people I call friends in real life have my WhatsApp number and can get in touch. All the others can write me an email because I surely don’t want to receive WhatsApp messages all day long, either.   

My private Instagram account is actually the only social media account I will keep. It’s not distracting because I just use it as a photo album. No hashtags, not interested in followers, just my private memories of the places I’ve visited. When I started the Learn German with Stories Instagram account, I knew exactly that I wouldn’t enjoy it and as a result, I hardly ever posted. I didn’t delete the account but will never again post. The same goes for my Facebook Page and group because I’ve deactivated my Facebook profile and that means I can no longer access the page and the group. 

There may be people who improve their foreign languages with social media but I’m definitely not one of them. It’s the same with Duolingo which never worked for me, either. Perhaps, it’s different for the younger generations but I’ve always preferred to learn a language with texts and audio. So that will be my focus with Learn German with Stories. No more social media, just content that can be downloaded and used offline. I think that’s really the point. We get distracted whenever we’re online, it’s inevitable. I’m writing this text offline, by the way. I switched off my wifi and am just writing. Feels much better.

And what about email? The course I purchased last September also encouraged me to send emails regularly. At least once a week. If you’ve been on my list for a while, you may remember that I tried it for a couple of weeks. Believe me, it was exhausting for me and I always thought that it doesn’t make much sense. Because, well, we’re bombarded with emails, too. In January/February, I monitored a little how many emails I received, how often people whose work I actually like send emails and what is their purpose. Well, we’re all doing the same. It’s called email marketing, you enter a sales funnel as soon as you subscribe. And all marketers try to tell you interesting, motivating or funny stories to attract your attention but it’s their final goal to sell you something. I tried this, too but never liked it. So does that mean that I will stop sending emails, too? I actually thought about it but on the other hand, I enjoy reading about other creators’ projects – as long as they don’t exaggerate it. I don’t want to be bombarded with emails. When someone sends me an email every couple of days, I just delete them. Or I open them, skim through them and think I’ll read them properly later. But that never happens because more emails arrive. 

So I decided that I’m going to send you an email about once a month. Yes, I’ll tell you about my books and hope that people will continue buying my stuff.  Because writing stories is something I really enjoy and I do believe that it helps you to improve your German. However, I’ll make the emails a bit more personal and let you be part of my life. I like to invent stories but I don’t want to invent stories for marketing purposes. I’m actually pretty sure that many of those “true stories” that email marketers send us are totally made up or at least exaggerated. 

I’m confident that continuing Learn German with Stories without social media will work because I believe that many people feel overwhelmed by social media, emails, and newsfeeds that refresh by the minute. If you made it to the end of this text, you’re probably one of them and it shows that you’re still capable to read a longer text without any sub-headings. Many people lost that ability. However, it’s possible to get it back and I believe that learning a language with a story will help.

Go offline. Take a walk in nature, learn vocabulary the old-fashioned way, and start reading more. 

Scroll to Top