The story in the Kalona community is told of the young Old Order Amish woman who was talking to her bishop about the use of the cell phone.  The bishop was denouncing its usage, saying it was not in compliance with the rules of the church.  As the young lady was expressing her agreement with the bishop’s remarks, her purse rang.

Like most Americans, I have a cell phone.

Unlike most folks, mine is ancient.  It’s a 5-year-old Nokia.  No bells, no whistles.  The screen bears a hairline crack, the result of a long-ago tumble from a nightstand.  I use it for calls, and text messages.  That’s it.

Amish youth (and adults) with cell phones would laugh at its primitive nature.  Today’s phones are stunning in comparison.  Internet access, cameras, touch screens, applications.  I recently heard them described as containing hard drives similar to desktops of a few years back.  They’re basically pocket-sized computers.

My cell phone is a functional tool.  Its function level is low.  But I haven’t yet felt the need to update it. Maybe because of that, I use it only minimally.

I’ve never had a compelling need to check email while on the go.  There were times it would have been convenient, sure.  But email can usually wait til I get home.

Cell phones have tacitly entered Amish society.  But Amish concerns about the negative effects of easy phone access remain.  One wonders about its effects on non-Amish society.

What do you think–are cell phones essential?  Is it worth having an updated model, with all the bells and whistles?  And do cell phones improve life, or take away from it?

Kalona Amish story source: “The Kalona Amish: Retention and Defection Patterns of the 20th Century”, Erin Miller

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