Amish People Reveal How The Lack Of Technology Impacts Their Lives
One reddit user asked: Amish of Reddit, how does not using technology affect your lives?
First of all, not a lot of Amish on Reddit - for obvious reasons. What we do find is a lot of people with experience working with, or communing with, and even DATING Amish people. We tend to think of them as isolated and disconnected, but that's not always the case. These stories show us that there may be a lack of modern technology, but there's no lack of modern interaction - or porn. No lack of porn at all.
Buckle up, we're gonna get Amish on it.
Pornhub On A Kyocera
So. I work in a cell phone store, and probably 30% of my customers are Amish.
There is one group that does not allow smart phones, but does allow "battery phones." I sell a lot of "battery phones."
It's a cell phone. Samsung gusto 3. Samsung Convoy 4. Kyocera cadence. Apparently these aren't "cell phones," or "smart phones," but "battery phones."
And if your "English" neighbor has wifi, you have wifi.
A Kyocera cadence can get to tube sites on wifi.
"I Flushed and Nothing Happened"
When I was like 16 my mom forced me to go on some church trip where we toured Amish country in Intercourse, PA. We ate dinner at some old lady's house and she talked to us about life there. The whole community used a public phone located next to the highway, they didn't use electricity at all in their houses and relied on pneumatic plumbing.
Whatever I ate did not sit well with me. The lady looked super uncomfortable when I asked to use her bathroom, but I had a major storm a brewin' and just did not care.
I excused myself from their table and completely annihilated their toilet. I flushed, thankful to be rid of my demons, washed my hands, and started to leave the little washroom when suddenly my gut gurgled and I knew it was time for round two. I basically sandblasted the porcelain. After shakily getting to my feet, I flushed and nothing happened. Slight panic rising in my throat, I flush again but like, more firmly as if i were trying to convince it to work. Instead of my mess disappearing, it rose toward me slowly and menacingly approaching the brim of the bowl. Luckily it didn't overflow but it was so close i couldn't even give it a plunge, had there even been one available.
I just quietly placed the cover over the seat, slipped out of the bathroom and rejoined everyone around the table, hoping no one would go in there til after we left. Well the pastor's wife who came with us as a chaperone went into the bathroom sometime later, and immediately came rushing back out all frantic and practically yells "who went in the bathroom?"
Everyone was silent for a second, but I just felt my face go blood red and felt all my nerves burning in shame, and then everyone simultaneously turned to look at me. I stammered about being sick and the food not sitting well (old Amish lady looks super offended, all her family are just bewildered) and excused myself again. I walked outside and got on the church bus and sat there until everyone piled in to leave. No one looked at me the whole 6 hour trip home.
To answer the question, there seemed to be a growing number of what's called the "electric Amish." Being Amish apparently isn't about rejecting technology, it's about rejecting the pace at which technology has advanced recently.
Basically, the Amish that I know use their phones to:
1. Call a ride from someone "English" (that's what the Amish call non-Amish) who is allowed to drive.
2. Conduct business such as bookkeeping and online payments.
I went on a couple dates with a guy who was raised Amish, and still retains a bunch of the habits from his youth.
He told me things were slower. Getting information, solving problems, etc. all took a lot longer. News travels from person to person and if you're not one of the first to hear, you usually get a slightly incorrect version due to it being retold so many times.
He was one of 13 children, so he always had people to play with. There was no one at school who he was not somehow related to, so until he moved out and got a smartphone as an adult, dating was a lot harder.
Their rejection of technology extended to the medical field. He has never been to a doctor, received a vaccine, or visited a dentist. When we were going out, he was pretty sure he had a broken foot but wasn't certain and had no plans to see a doctor.
He does not own a TV or a computer. He sees no reason to. His smartphone can do all of that.
Additionally, he's still more comfortable on a horse than in a car. He's never been on a plane because they scare him. I didn't ask about trains.
Not growing up with any technology has made him a very unique person. He cherishes conversation more than most people. He can build and fix more things than anyone I ever met. He keeps a garden for produce and has a better appreciation for nature than most.
Most of his family is still Amish. He hasn't been properly shunned, and they still communicate via handwritten snail mail. If he ever watches sports, he goes to the local sports bar to watch.
My uncle decided to join an Amish community about 10 years ago. He was a catholic preist but questioned his faith when over half his immediate family died within a year (my dad is the only immediate left) He's found peace in the world and just got married a few years ago. He translates French to German and vice versa and really enjoys what he does. I'll drive out to his place and visit him (4 hour drive from my house) as the only real way to keep in touch.
Tractor Joyrides Are Frowned Upon
communities vary greatly on the allowable tech. They actually have a council of local members that decides what is permissible in their community aesthetics.
It's kinda like a huge HOA.
Not uncommon, they can use power tools and electric lights in a shop, and diesel tractors. But not at home.
It gets odd at times. One decreed you could only have steel-rimmed tractors, no rubber tires. Because some members were taking tractors on outings a little too often. Steel wheels would be illegal on paved roads,
Some allow electricity at home but only for refrigeration and lights.
They often bum rides off their "english" outsider neighbors, or ask to use their phone. There is sometimes a phone booth just outside the community. It's just to keep it from being used for distracting casual chitchat.
The Amish Are Trendsetters
I'm not Amish, but I'm very close to someone who is. The idea is about focus only on what's important to them. They live minimally so that they can devote all of their energy to doing what they want - like spent time with God and family. By minimizing material possessions, it keeps friends and neighbors the focus. I'm atheist, but I see some logic in their traditions. "Trendy" people call it downsizing, minimalism, etc. Like the whole tiny house thing. But the Amish have seen the benefits of that for a long time.
I used to work summers on Amish farm. Some of my favorite parts.
- Some of them love Amish Paradise by Weird Al.
- They bought a 2016 truck with all the bells and whistles, then they hire non-Amish to drive them around.
- They use flip phones.
- They con each other constantly. Because they trust local Amish stores more than outsider stores, they'll pay up to like 400% for something.
- The babies and toddlers just wear mini versions of the adult clothing.
Amish Basketball Court
Where I live, Amish all have cell phones. Most have fax machines. Many have generators for LED lights in their houses and satellite dishes to watch college basketball. A lot of them are obsessed with college b ball.
Myself and a few of my buddies actually challenged some amish guys to a game of basketball once. We played at their place. They had a barn with an indoor full court with benches lining the side.
They were pretty damn good and ran a lot of pick and rolls. Of course they played in their normal Amish clothes, but wore basketball shoes. Most young amish here wear Nike hightops. They also love mountain dew and can be seen with cart loads at the local wallmart.
I've worked around them in construction for 20+ years. 99.9% of Amish are great people.
Electric Bike Kerfuffle
Not Amish but work with a LOT of them. My company manufacturers electric bicycles. Our biggest customer is located in Amish country. Interestingly they have phones and love the electric bikes. Everyone once and awhile we get an email from them. Apparently there is a lot of kerfuffle over ebikes and if they should be accepted in Amish country or not. But sales indicate they're popular.
I won't pretend I know anything about them but I at least know they use "technology" to some degree.
Sense Of Community
I listened to a Malcom Gladwell podcast. His family joined a Mennonite church when he was a kid. Mennonite's are like more liberal, less serious Amish. He said that the sense of community is unlike anything we are used to in the modern world.
The example he gave was that if someone's barn burned down, the next day everyone, and he meant everyone would come with whatever extra materials they had on hand to rebuild or food for everyone helping. When he said everyone he meant every single man woman and child of the community. They would do a barn raising and finish it in 2 days. One day for the framing and what not and the 2nd day to finish it.
It was a very interesting podcast and I suggest anyone interested give it a listen. It's Generous Orthodoxy - Revisionist History Season 1, Ep. 9.
The Amish take advantage of solar technology all the time, yo. It's crazy to me because they have completely skipped the "bad for the earth electric" and jumped straight into clean energy. Almost all new houses being built here in Ohio Amish country are wired for solar and have big panels.
Amish Cool Whip
One day our middle age neighbors, husband and wife, went out and came back with about 50 containers of Cool Whip. We could see them unloading all the Cool Whip from their black, of course, sedan. We don't normally spy on neighbors but, hey, Cool Whip is awesome and 50 containers does catch your eye.
We've spent the last 25 years wondering how all that Cool Whip was going to be used. Odd what stays burrows into the crevices of your mind.
I am of Amish descent and have been around them somewhat. They are just a simple people and I have recently decided through my own endeavors to limit my phone use. I imagine that the lack of technology can only help them become real people within their community. My lack of use of technology helps me recognize I am more than just a phone number/words on a screen. I can only believe that my distant cousins may be something more raw and similar.