The Amish are a small community in central Pennsylvania who have been practicing their own form of Christianity since the middle ages. Despite being on the other side of the world from America’s technology, they’ve managed to keep afloat without modern conveniences like electricity or running water.
Nowadays, these people live mainly off subsistence farming and animal husbandry, but some argue that by using modern technologies like smartphones we’re losing parts of our identity as well as ways for communities to connect with one another. What do you think about this?
The Amish are a group of people who have chosen to live their lives without the use of technology. They do not use electricity or cars, but they still manage to live in modern society. Whether you want to be like the Amish or not, it is important to know how they survive and what they do with technology.
The first thing that comes to mind when you think of the Amish is their traditional, 19th-century-style lifestyle, particularly their rejection of technology.
Despite common assumption, the Amish do not reject all modern technology and are not completely opposed to it. While the rules for utilizing technology differ each community, you’ll find Amish people using electricity, telephones, and even a computer in many of them.
They have, however, made certain very specific changes to the way they employ this technology.
Their energy is generated by diesel engines and solar panels rather than the local power system.
While the Amish do not have telephones in their homes, they do have phones in community “phone shanties,” which look like outhouses.
While most Amish don’t use the newest Apple laptop, some do utilize a very rudimentary word processor that lacks internet, gaming, video, and other features.
While these adaptations may seem weird to outsiders, they all have one thing in common: they enable the Amish to use technology in a way that does not upset their way of life.
Family time, neighborly relationships, simplicity, and self-sufficiency are valued by the Amish. Technologies that will help to preserve these values are encouraged, while those that would degrade them are discouraged.
The Amish are able to retain their independence by depending on their own, independent sources of power rather than the grid.
The Amish get the benefits of phone service (like being able to call a doctor in an emergency or conducting business with strangers) while making it inconvenient enough to avoid the drawbacks of personal phones, which they see as a decrease in face-to-face conversation and an increase in distraction.
They shun contemporary computers, radios, and TVs for the same reason; they believe that these products, and the way they give personal amusement, would fracture families and the greater society.
Instead than thinking of the Amish as anti-technology, it’s more realistic to think of them as very deliberate in their use of technology. When a new invention is introduced, an Amish community will carefully consider its merits and downsides, as well as its possible impact on their beliefs and way of life. When you think about it, sometimes they completely prohibit a technology; other times, they openly ban it but allow it to be used with certain restrictions. Members of each Amish community gather twice a year to examine the Ordnung — the norms that govern their way of life — and to consider whether any modifications to their technology use should be made, as well as to confirm their present usage patterns.
Compare and contrast this attitude toward technology with that of the typical human.
When a new item or digital service is released, it looks awesome, and you purchase it and start using it without even thinking about it. You reason that since something is new, it must be better; it’s a no-brainer. Soon, you won’t be able to fathom your existence without it.
However, after a few months or years, you begin to be concerned about how the new technology is influencing your life. You don’t like how you’re always looking at your phone, scrolling through Instagram. When you see how your family members are constantly off in their own rooms, on their own gadgets, looking into the blue light of their own digital worlds, you feel frustrated, dissatisfied, and just a little melancholy. You didn’t consider how the technology you brought into your life, and the habits you established around it, would affect your mind, routine, relationships, family culture, and values, and now that severe flaws in the technology have surfaced, it’s tough to get back on track.
If you’re feeling this way about your technology, maybe it’s time to learn from the Amish. It’s not about being as rigid as they are, but about approaching it with more focus.
This first stage, like the Amish, necessitates understanding what you’re talking about. The Amish are quite clear about what they believe in, and they make sure that their technology supports their beliefs.
So, first and foremost, what is your life’s purpose?
After you’ve figured that out, examine any new technology you may want to bring into your circle before adopting it, thinking about how it could contribute to or subtract from your life’s mission. If the possible risk outweighs the potential advantage, don’t use it in the first place.
Consider the gadgets and programs you currently use in a similar way. What benefit do they provide to your life? What do they take with them? If you have a family, consider forming your own Amish communal council to discuss issues.
Then start thinking about how you may change your technology use to better match with your beliefs. This doesn’t necessarily mean rejecting a piece of technology entirely, as the Amish do, but rather imposing constraints on its usage that maximize its advantages while minimizing its drawbacks. It might entail installing applications on your phone (or utilizing Apple’s Screen Time capabilities) to ban or limit your usage of other apps at particular hours or for a certain amount of time. It may mean choosing not to check your phone until after you’ve completed a session of scripture study or meditation in the morning. It might be as simple as prohibiting the use of cellphones at the dinner table or establishing a rule that your home’s video game system can only be played with another family member.
Just as each Amish community has its own set of rules and criteria for using technology, each individual and family will have their own set of rules and guidelines for using technology.
Check out this wonderful list from The Convivial Society for some specific questions to help guide your purposeful digital usage. Here are a few of my personal favorites:
- What kind of person will I become as a result of my usage of technology?
- How does my perception of a happy life change as a result of my usage of technology?
- What habits will be formed as a result of the usage of this technology?
- What impact will this technology have on my perception of time?
- What impact will this technology have on my sense of place?
- What impact will this technology have on how I interact with others?
- How does my perception of a happy life change as a result of my usage of technology?
- Is it possible for me to envision a life without technology? Why do you think that is, and why don’t you think that it isn’
- What wants are engendered by the usage of this technology?
- What are the possible consequences of my usage of this technology for myself, others, or the world?
- Is it possible that my use of technology encourages me to see individuals as a means to an end?
- Is it simpler for me to live as if I have no responsibility toward my neighbor because I utilize this technology?
Using technology like the Amish doesn’t mean ditching your vehicle in favor of a buggy and your computer in favor of a calculator; it just means understanding what you want to achieve and using technology to help you get there rather than impede you.
The “why don’t the amish use technology” is a question that has been asked for years. The Amish live in a society where they do not use technology, but there are many reasons why they choose to do so.
Frequently Asked Questions
What technology are Amish allowed to use?
A: Amish are allowed to use technology that is present in the majority of cultures around the world.
Why do Amish people reject modern technology?
A: The Amish believe that modern technology is a threat to their religion and values. They choose to live in more rural areas away from the majority of society, where they maintain control over how much information they share with outsiders.
Why do Amish think technology is bad?
A: The Amish do not trust technology, and are afraid it will prove to be dangerous as time goes on.
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