The Amish community is undoubtedly one of the world's most misunderstood and fascinating groups. They live a traditional lifestyle full of hard work, faith, and simplicity. From how they dress to their religious beliefs, their customs seem worlds apart from the modern society surrounding us. However, many people don’t realize that the Amish community has a unique and remarkable relationship with technology.
From the outside looking in, it may appear that they have foregone the use of technology altogether, but this is far from the truth. Very minimal technology has a place in the Amish way of life – just as long as it doesn't disrupt their core values and beliefs.
In this article, we'll discuss Amish technology. We'll talk about the old order vs. new order Amish, how they view technological advances, and the technology they commonly use. By the end of this article, you'll have a better understanding of the complex relationship between the Amish and technology.
What this article covers:
- What Are the Amish's Views on Technology?
- What Technology Do the Amish Use for Work?
- What Technology Do the Amish Use in the Home?
What Are the Amish's Views on Technology?
The Amish have a complex relationship with technology. Historically, they have been known to reject the use of technology and rely instead on manual labor and traditional values. While some Amish communities still follow this tradition today, plenty of Amish people use electricity.
Since the Amish place a higher priority on simplicity than on modernity, it's easy to think that they might view modern technology contrary to upholding their fundamental beliefs.
However, while they lean toward manual labor and craftsmanship, there are several occasions where the Amish have access to power, vehicles, television, and the internet. In fact, some Amish communities have even become more open to technology like cell phones and computers in the home, typically used to conduct business or communicate with distant relatives and friends.
The Amish largely view technology as a tool that should be used in moderation, and it should only be used to benefit their way of life. This includes maximizing productivity in agriculture while adhering to traditional principles like manual labor and simplicity.
The Amish are also firm believers in maintaining the stewardship of their land and resources. They’re conscious of their environment and avoid being wasteful wherever possible. This consciousness extends to practices that could harm the environment, like using pesticides or fossil fuels.
Old Order Amish Views on Technology
The Old Order Amish are a reserved, traditionalist Christian sect that eschew modern technology, preferring to rely on horses and buggies for transportation and manual labor for farming. Technology is tricky for the Old Order Amish because it raises questions about their religious sensibilities and beliefs. On one hand, they’re wary of certain types of technology that could potentially lead them away from their traditional lifestyle. On the other hand, some Amish believe that certain kinds of technology can be used to help their community and maintain their traditional values.
This community views most forms of technology as conflicting with their religious outlook on life, such as motorized vehicles, electricity, or electronic devices. They see these kinds of technologies as too modern and aren’t comfortable with them. This comes down to their inherent belief that they need to remain as close to the world God provided for them as humanly possible.
To drastically alter their way of life without fundamental religious backing is considered a sin, and they’re very cautious about engaging in any practices that can lead them too far from their core beliefs.
Old Order Recreation
While they’re an undoubtedly devout community, they have plenty of methods of enjoying themselves. So, while you won't find Amish kids playing video games or using computers, you may encounter them playing with Amish faceless dolls made of plain cloth while enjoying some delicious old-fashioned Amish candy. They also kick back to read physical books, so you’re very unlikely to find them curled up with an e-reader or tablet in the crook of their arms.
Another time-honored facet of Amish recreation happens to be an integral reason their lifestyle continues to thrive today: Amish craftmanship.
Old Order Craftsmanship
It’s probably no secret that the Amish are known for their expert craftsmanship, and it’s even more impressive when you consider that the Old Order Amish mastered it without the aid of contemporary technology.
They tend to prefer using manual tools such as saws, planes, chisels, and hammers instead of power tools.
In old-order Amish homes, you'll find wicker under-bed baskets for storing clothing, oil lamps, fireplaces for lighting, and wood stoves or kerosene heaters for warmth. Women use wood harvest baskets made from woven willow bark for carrying goods. Storage baskets for shelves are made from woven strips of strip bark, while Amish quilts are used to cover beds.
Old Order Communication
The Old Order Amish does allow some newer technologies in limited doses. Some communities use phones with cords or have a shared landline phone within the community for emergencies.
The Old Order Amish don't entertain any technology that would increase their capacity for communication or social interchange with the outside world. They strongly reject technology that would increase their comfort, convenience, and mobility. But can Amish have cell phones? Well, modern cell phones are seen as too modern and intrusive by the Old Order Amish and, therefore, strictly forbidden.
The Old Order Amish are resilient people who have remained true to their traditional lifestyle for centuries. Through an unwavering devotion to plain living and strict adherence to religious beliefs and practices, they have managed to preserve their culture and remain relevant in a rapidly changing world.
New Order Amish Views on Technology
The New Order Amish are marginally more contemporary than their Old Order counterparts, and they've started to adopt some forms of technology into their lives. Even though their core way of life remains unchanged, they have a far more permissive attitude toward technology than the Old Order.
The New Order Amish typically permit battery-operated lights and radios in their homes. They may permit telephones as well, although they're generally restricted to a separate structure outside the house or inside the barn. Amish computers are allowed in the workplace, although Amish internet access is very minimal.
The New Order Amish ensure that the technology they employ conforms with their religious beliefs, so you won’t find them using tech that requires high levels of electricity or connects to the outside world.
Maintaining their agricultural lifestyle is essential, and they prefer manual labor over machines whenever possible. However, they’re known to use technology to improve their farming practices. In fact, Amish solar power systems can provide electricity without the need to connect to the grid.
The Amish do keep a cautious eye on contemporary trends, therefore their usage of technology changes continuously.They continue to be prudent and deliberate when deciding which technology to use, and they only select those that complement their traditional way of life without compromising their religious values.
The New Order Amish are a great illustration of how community values and tradition can influence how technology is used. While strictly adhering their traditional way of life and religious convictions, they've embraced some exciting innovations. By doing this, they're able to remain relevant and thrive in today's society without abandoning their principles or their cultural heritage. They remain one of the most prosperous communities in the world and a testament to strength and resiliency as a result.
Despite their reputation for eschewing contemporary technology, the Amish do employ several forms of it. In fact, there are several Amish communities that employ a variety of technologies in their daily life.
What Technology Do the Amish Use for Work?
There are several types of technology used in Amish work. They include:
Buggies for Transport
The buggy might be the most recognizable example of Amish technology. While they’re not considered the most modern vehicles, they have been adapted for safety and efficiency over time.
Buggies are usually pulled by horses, but sometimes mules are employed. They're durable and simple to maneuver because of their flat rubber tires and distinctive box frame design.
Some buggies can include contemporary features like headlights and turn signals, and they're fairly safe to use on roads shared by vehicles.
Another type of technology used by Amish artisans is motorized tools. Even though the bulk of Amish people refrain from using power instruments like electric drills and table saws, they occasionally use gasoline-powered miniature engines and generators.
These devices are commonly used to power machinery, including mills and sawmills, that cannot be handled by hand.
Some Amish towns use solar energy to run some machinery. Pumps and other machinery that would otherwise need to be powered by the grid can be operated using the electricity produced by solar panels.
One of the questions that most people ask is: can Amish use tractors? Although most Amish people rely on manual labor, some of them use tractors powered by diesel engines. These machines are often used to plow fields or transport goods over long distances.
Although most Amish communication is done in person, workplaces are usually allowed to make use of telephones. Many Amish businesses have a phone line to communicate with customers or vendors.
The phones are usually positioned centrally, most often in the workshop, and are used solely for business purposes to ensure they don’t become a distraction or an unnecessary interruption.
Some Amish businesses have started utilizing computers in recent years. Usually, only specialized accounting or inventory management activities are handled by these machines.
The computers are often kept in a centralized office, and the Amish business owners frequently employ an outside IT specialist to keep them up to date.
What Technology Do the Amish Use in the Home?
Now that we've looked at what technology is used for work, let's look at how the Amish use technology in their homes.
Some of the most common technologies used in the home include:
There are phones in some Amish homes, but they're typically mounted on walls, in barns, or in outbuildings. Similar to other more modern technologies, these are only employed when absolutely necessary.
Fridges and freezers
Fridges, which may be powered by propane or natural gas, are common in Amish households. Some may even have electric refrigerators, but this is subject to community rules. They can even occasionally keep food in freezers.
Natural gas, or propane, is also frequently used to power washing machines. Depending on community rules, some might even install electric motors.
Gas lanterns and candles are used as sources of lighting in certain Amish households. However, some people might also employ battery- or solar-powered lighting. It's important to note that electricity is typically scarce in Amish households.
The Amish have a distinctive perspective regarding the use of modern technology. Their usage of any specific technology must be crucial for their work and daily lives, even though they may not use it to the same extent as other cultures. They've steadfastly upheld their traditions while still employing contemporary technologies in ways that are consistent with their principles.
To those of us who are used to a more conventional approach, the ways these communities use technology may seem unusual, but it's obvious that the Amish have found a means of staying connected while also upholding their principles. Thanks to modern technology, they can thrive in ways that were previously impossible.
However, there's continued skepticism surrounding technological advancements that can precipitate too much change. The way the Amish use technology serves as a good example of how everyone may benefit from being mindful of when and how we use it in our everyday routines.
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