are the Amish technophobes?
In my research on another subject a writer called the Amish technophobes and I paused to consider this. The word was used derogatorily and, as a writer of Amish fiction, I felt a bit defensive.
Possibly the writer who flung out this remark didn’t know the Amish had used Alexander Graham Bell’s invention for a decade before dissing it because it was being used as a means of talking about others behind their backs. He likely also didn’t know that many Amish communities keep a phone booth on site in case of emergencies. (The school teacher who alerted the police to the Nickel Mines shootings used such a phone.)
I doubt he was aware that the Amish use modern medical facilities, surgeries, and medicines to care for their sick when necessary. Nor did he stop to consider that, in their time, horses and buggies and well-made wheels were the modern technology of the day. Nor had he investigated and discovered that the Amish will fly on planes, take trains, and sit as passengers in cars and trucks. They aren’t permitted to own or pilot planes. Or own and drive cars. But they make use of them.
This involvement with modern technologies of the past and present hardly makes them technophobes.
But unquestionably the Amish have a healthy fear of modern technology. They are afraid it may destroy their families and churches and communities. Not because all technology is bad – as I’ve mentioned, they use modern pharmaceuticals and treatments. Simply because all technology is a two-edged sword.
One man uses the internet to look up Bible verses or even research Amish beliefs. Another uses it for the purpose of sexual trafficking. Nuclear energy can light up cities or blow up cities. Smart phones can help people communicate or help isolate them from others nearby they are too preoccupied to speak with face-to-face. If there are cyber blessings there is also cyber bullying. Cars take people to family and friends and on Christian missions. They also pollute the air of our large cities and make it almost impossible for certain people to go outdoors and get a breath of air.
So perhaps the correct terms to use to describe our Amish friends when it comes to modern technology are aware or cautious. As in techno aware or techno cautious. Or techno restrained. They are not knee-jerk afraid of technology nor are they against all technology. However they are very much aware of the harm technology can do and so are cautious of implementing all technologies that show up each year into their communities and homes without discussion and debate. Most of the rest of us just grab all the modern technologies that show up without a second’s thought.
It is the Amish who are techno wise. They reject much but they accept some.
It is a practice many of us could benefit from. Not every device that shows up on the shelves at Wal-Mart is a blessing or enhancement to the Christian lifestyle.
Or any human’s lifestyle.
Last 5 posts by murray
* Are the Amish Quaint? - January 17th, 2012
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* RT Reviews Top Pick - December 21st, 2011
* Before Amish were Amish - December 18th, 2011