ROCHESTER, Minn. — Eddie Swartzentruber was 17 years old when he left the Amish community where he grew up. He always knew he wanted to leave, but the escape wasn’t something he had planned out.
“I feel like if you would think it out for a long time, you probably wouldn’t do it because there is so many doomsday scenarios,” Swartzentruber said.
Instead, the 25-year-old business owner says his decision to act came in the matter of two days. He fled to to Harmony, Minnesota with nothing to his name, but with hope for a better future.
“It is so super liberating. You don’t have anything, but you’ll try everything,” Swartzentruber said.
With some help from kind strangers, Swartzentruber was able to get on his feet. He started to get acclimated to an English world and all that it comes with. Eventually, that included social media.
In the fall of 2021, he made a TikTok account. By the next spring, he was using it to post videos about his experience leaving the Amish and starting over. He quickly reached users who were captivated by his story.
He says the Amish comes along with a kind of mystique that people find intriguing.
“It is part of a mystery,” Swartzentruber said. “The Amish is so closed off. You cannot communicate with any outside world. There is a big picture of the Amish out here being ultra-conservative.”
Swartzentruber says he wants to share an honest picture of what Amish life is like. He admits there are a lot of things within the Amish community that should remain protected, but there are also a lot of things that are covered up by the community.
His videos now consistently reach hundreds of thousands of viewers. His most popular is about the rules he had to follow as a member of the Amish community. The minute-long clip has over 1.5 million views and more than 158,000 likes on the app.
Source: CBS Minnesota