Amish Youth Talk: Cell Phones & The Internet

Today, the second part of an Amishman’s talk to an Amish youth group.  The first part adressed popular music.  This installment covers cell phones and the internet.

The speaker is a father of children of running-around age.  This talk was given a few weeks ago to a group of around 150 people in his community, both youth and adults.

I would like to move to cell phones.  Some think they are no good and we shouldn’t have anything to do with them.  Others feel a little different than that.  There are parts that are good and even to a degree sometimes necessary.

I am not here to take sides.  I don’t have a cell phone nowadays.  I used to work at a place where they had cell phones and computers and I know the basics on how to use them.

iphoneHowever this we can all agree on I think. There is a lot of distraction and trash on the internet.  And it is one of the most complicated and difficult issues the Plain people have ever dealt with.

I want to touch a little on the nature and dangers of the internet.  English people as well say that the internet is bringing more change to the way we think, act, and live.  It is changing all the old patterns of behavior.  It will bring more change than anything else has since the invention of the printing press.  It is hard for me to imagine a world with very few books but so it was about 600 years ago.

It is important to remember that nobody regulates hardly anything that gets put on the internet.  You can post and view nearly anything you want.  In the past with radio and television the government had certain standards for things you could or could not show and say.  Over the years this deteriorated.  And now with the internet you can do nearly as you please.

A teenager writing in the daily paper gave her meaning like this.  Social media meaning Facebook and Twitter have been useful.  The potential to keep in touch with friends from faraway places has never been more achievable and the ability to be informed with breaking news every minute is a luxury people 20 years ago did not have.  Again this was her opinion but I think we can agree with what she says next.

Unfortunately it has also corrupted morals and values to such a degree that there are no limits anymore.  This was written by a 17-year-old English girl.

And yet there is nothing on the internet that has not been with humans for thousands of years ever since the dawn of time.  Humans have always been sinful, violent and lustful.

The difference here today is that the cell phone and the internet brings all this together in one little device.  You hold the whole world in your hand and you can put it in your pocket.  And anymore there is not much difference between a so-called smart phone and a more innocent looking flip phone.

This all makes the development of compulsive behaviors and bad habits so so very much easier and so much more likely.  A young Mennonite boy I worked with said that you say things to people online you never would to their face.  I asked a young girl I work with if this would be fair and true to say.  She said Oh yes very definitely that is true.

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    1. Lattice

      Just a few thoughts:

      Sin has its origin in the hearts and minds of men.

      We need to find a way to shelter our youngsters for a little longer.

      And then:

      Never, since the realization that God knows all, has there been any time where people act with the knowledge that someone is likely filming and posting their actions for the whole world to see…and it’s there forever. Likewise, we’re learning that our searches and internet activity is being monitored.

      I wonder, could these present circumstances possibly serve to IMPROVE the moral behavior of people in time?

      1. Jack P. Brooks

        Some of the dangers of these devices.

        EMF’s and EMR are some real serious concerns to be considering.

        Please do your research, EMF is electromagnetic field, and EMR is electromagnetic radiation.

        While you are at it, research “smart meters”.

        Then if you are wondering why, research agenda21, it is the plan of the elite in this world to reduce population by about 95%.

        If that sounds a little crazy, take a look at the elites model, Syria, over 120 thousand dead, that’s called hard kill.

        Then look at North America, the highest cancer rates in the world, called soft kill, pharmaceuticals, and radiation are the number one cause.

    2. OldKat

      Good topic

      I don’t see anything in the Amish man’s remarks that I would disagree with. I especially agree with the part about people saying things (and maybe doing things) over the internet that they would probably NEVER say or do in person.

      I am constantly amazed at the things that I understand that some people, usually … but not always, young people will post on Facebook & other social media. The son of one of my good friends had a so-called friend of his post something that was not true (but which the “friend” thought was funny) on the Facebook Wall of my friend’s son. So happened the young man was being considered for a very good job. That went down the drain when they looked up his FB Wall & saw what was posted there. Someone on the inside even told him why. When he told his “friend” what had happened his now ex-“friend” thought that was funny, too!

      That is a good question Lattice, but I suspect that people will continue to engage in the behaviors that they have always engaged in. What will probably happen is they will finally realize that putting it out on the internet for everyone in the world to see is not really such a great idea.

      1. Another good reason not to permit others to post things to your personal wall.

        I have a Facebook account but my Facebook time is really limited to managing the Amish America page.

    3. Sadie

      In my opinion, the “rise” of cell/mobile phones is damaging society, and not just in the potential ways the Amish man spoke about, above.

      It is almost as if many, many younger people ( I’d guess 25 and younger ) have lost many of the qualities that once were intrinsic to living in a society. It seems to me this gets more severe with each succeeding generation. It worries me that cell/mobile/smart phones are taking the place of true interaction, and that so many adolescents and children who have them ( computers presenting the same issues ) use them instead of the face-to-face or voice-to-voice interaction. In a typical “Englisch” suburb, it is incredibly rare to see children outside playing; instead, they’re inside, on computers or tablets or phones.

      I hope society doesn’t become so fragmented that the majority of people, eventually, are only able to communicate via text messages or such!

      As for what is accessible, it shocks me and disgusts me, because if I end up with x-rated pop-up ads, I know that thousands of others, including children, will experience the same thing. I believe cell phones have a good, legitimate purpose and sure, can be fun! ( After all, I’m writing this note and reading Erik’s blog on a smart phone! ) I personally don’t care a bit who is or isn’t monitoring my phone calls or cell phone or Internet usage; I’m not doing anything I’d not feel perfectly comfortable with my parents knowing ( and that is sort of a “litmus test,” isn’t it haha ).

      I absolutely agree with the Amish man who is quoted above when he said, “This all makes the development of compulsive behaviors and bad habits so so very much easier and so much more likely.” I think that is so very true of both Amish and English people, and although the material one can access on the Internet does, sadly, reflect the entire spectrum of human though and behavior, it need not — I personally wish there was some sort of oversight, I don’t know. I agree, too, with Lattice. But I have no answers.

      1. OldKat

        Then again ...

        Sadie wrote: “I personally don’t care a bit who is or isn’t monitoring my phone calls or cell phone or Internet usage; I’m not doing anything I’d not feel perfectly comfortable with my parents knowing ( and that is sort of a “litmus test,” isn’t it haha )”.

        I used to feel the same way. My theory was I don’t care who is watching what I do, as I have nothing to hide. I have started to change my mind as more and more information is coming out about what type(s) of data is being collected and how it is being used.

        You can Google “I have nothing to hide” and see a bunch of different sites that discuss this issue, but one of the most concise and current pieces that I have read is:

        1. Smartphone Privacy

          Whenever I use my Smartphone I notice shortly after I start receiving information on the phone that was related to my movements on the Internet. Because of this I frequently use the Incognito function on Chrome, or I use an application called “Duck Duck Go”. The purpose of using these functions is to cut down and hopefully eliminate websites tracking my activity.

      2. Man!

        This is semi-related to your comment Sadie but I had something happen again that struck me as pertains to under-25’ers.

        Someone of that age or thereabouts working at the bank today handed me my cash and said something like “Take care man”. When I was younger and cooler we used to use “man” alot among friends. I’m talking teenage years. But even then it was strange to use it with someone you did not know and certainly not someone significantly older than you.

        But now “man” seems to be what you say to strangers. I don’t think they mean it badly, it is meant by them as a friendly tack-on to their dialogue.

        I get this more often than you might think. Maybe my appearance has something to do with it. I don’t think he is saying the same to folks in the 50+ age category (I am 34, however as at least 2 Amish friends reminded me recently, the grey on my head seems to be coming in with reinforcements lately at the temples).

        I’m not sure if this comment is more an observation on the changing of language custom, or just an indication I am aging out of the younger set (or did that happen already a while back?? 😉 )

    4. Margaret

      My thoughts

      I see so many different sides to this!

      I do a fair amount of work in horse rescue. Abusers are vilified–sometimes BEFORE all the facts are in. And people (including mepyself)have been known to lose it online. Would I take action in “real life” vs the cyber world that surrounds us? I would hope not but I’ve seen some pretty horrid actions from people.

      My iPad allows me to have a huge library without lugging books around! And here’s what I find neat. Writers use a word I’m not familiar with or I’ve forgotten the definition. It’s a quick matter of highlighting the word and you can ask for the full definition. I feel more empowered because of a simple dictionary.

      My hands ache from holding too many books over time so for me this is a much better solution.

      I don’t have 3G, I have wifi. I would hope that a Bishop would take that into consideration before telling me that the iPad would have to go.

      Networking for horse rescue is hard enough but with Facebook comes sometimes a quicker response for help. And yes, I’ve seen scams. I’ve seen people put up old posts. I’m not sure why they do it unless its to ignite emotions again over an issue. That kind of thing annoys me no end,

      I think it’s easy to see how the Amish are having tough times with cell phones and iPads. It’s easy to fall into the trap of playing games nd texting friends. Some of whom you may know and others you don’t. I don’t want to sound condescending but Amish families can easily set the example of family values–kids living within a few miles of parents. No tv. No life isn’t easy or idyllic but I see good and bad with cell phone.

      The funny part about my cell phone? Reception at my home is spotty at best! I can text but if I want to call I have to use my main phone.

      1. Jack P. Brooks

        You got up my interest talking about horses, I am looking for one that will become part of my family. One that I can not only saddle up and ride, but one that I can hitch to a buggy as well.

        As far as facebook is concerned, it’s nothing more than a data mining website, as most sites are anyway. Facebook is NOT your friend, I will NOT use it period, I use twitter sometimes, because it is far less intrusive.

        Psalm 10:9
        He lieth in wait secretly as a lion in his den: he lieth in wait to catch the poor: he doth catch the poor, when he draweth him into his net.

        1 Peter 5:8
        Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:

        I can see the future of the internet ramping up as the staging platform for a massive totalitarian dictatorship control tactic.

        I grew into the internet from another platform called BBS under the dos system, long before the birth of the internet, and what I have been witnessing over the years is downright scary.

        I would NEVER allow a child in my control have their head so to speak on the internet without supervision.

        Even libraries have safety nets, but individual computers hooked to the internet with a child on the keyboard is insanity.

    5. Naomi Wilson

      changing times

      I grew up in a home with very limited tv, and many of my friends had no tv at all. I believe this was very much to our advantage. Twenty years ago, I would have characterized my acquaintances as very discriminating, independent thinkers, and many of my friends graduated as valedictorians. As of today, not one of my formerly tv-free acquaintances is without internet. I think this is a red flag. While there are many exceptions, in general, I believe that the internet gives more illusion of multiple ideas and perspectives, than actual diversity of thought. After several years of watching my friends’ and families’ comments on FB, I now believe it is one of the most powerful measures of social, psychological control ever invented. I would no longer characterize my childhood friends as discriminating, independent thinkers. Rather, to paint with a broad brush, I would characterize them as very mainstream, liberal followers, counting on Huffington Post and Jon Stewart for their world analysis.

      As a parent, it is a given that I should protect my children from the sex and violence available via almost every ad on websites. I also want to protect them from accepting as normal the views of “the world.” Although my husband is not quite fully convinced, I hope to no longer have internet in our home within a few years.

    6. Dali Castillo

      Comment on Amish Youth Talk

      I have to 100% agree with everything the gentleman shared with the youth. However, it’s a problem across the board, not just for the Amish community.

      I teach middle school, and one of the problems we have is cell phones. Students know it’s against the rules to have in school, yet they bring them anyway. They’re good at concealing them, and can even text from inside their pocket without looking at the phone. You have to have a very trained eye or you’ll miss it. They have also used them to film fights, incidents of bullying, to take inappropriate pictures that they send via text or post on social media.

      How do I know? Plenty of phones have been confiscated with the evidence, and kids love to talk & brag. But what amazes me the most is how young many of the kids are that have their own cell phones, even at the elementary level. Who just gives a child or teen a cell phone? Many people do……for emergency purposes, except that that’s not working out so well.

      Aside from the ills of cell phones amongst kids/teens, cell phones have most definitely contaminated the art of face to face communication. Sadly, many can’t lay theirs aside to enjoy a meal with family or friends. People living in the same house would rather text or call each other than go to where the other person is and have a proper conversation. Families are in the same house, but everyone is in their own little world, on a cell, internet, or other electronic game, or whatever. Riding in a car together and it’s the same thing. I would think that Amish youth would not be exempt from the adverse affects cell phones have on their communication.

      And look at what texting has done to the art of spelling. Kids can’t spell. They use texting terms in their writing or misspell basic words.

      Personally, I use mine for calls, & if I use the internet, it’s to get information, an answer to a question, to look up an address, etc.. Often times I flat out turn it off just to have quiet time. My kids didn’t have a cell phone growing up and everyone survived. Cell phones can be a good thing & they have their place, but unfortunately, often good things get turned into not so good things.

      1. Gadgets galore

        Dali you give a good description of life with a home full of gadgets. I just got back from 4 days in an Amish home in PA. I am always a little reluctant to “plug back in” to the tech habits I have when I am in my regular English world, but so it must be (or else this blog and other things do not get done). Admittedly I am not even free of gadgets while staying with Amish friends b/c I have an internet-enabled Kindle along.

        But their use is certainly more limited, sometimes a day or two even goes by without my getting online (imagine that!) 🙂

        Maybe it is just the circles I traffic in but I hear similar concerns such as yours and others expressed here left and right. We seem to know or think we know what would be best but most are too entwined now.

        The gadgets are too enticing, enjoyable, helpful, and easy-to-use for most of us to make any change of consequence. Probably the most feasible thing that can happen is taking the small steps to develop good habits on an individual or family basis. And also as Kevin Kelly says to try to minimize the technology we need.

        1. Dali Castillo

          Comment on Amish Youth Talk

          I agree with you, Erik, on the limiting, or rather minimizing the technology.
          Also, I appreciate all of the insight you offer in your articles. I’ve learned a lot from reading them.

    7. Alice Mary

      I knew,as soon as cellphones(especially) became common that there’d be trouble. I had wished the govt. or someone would have stepped in at the get-go to control their use (which in retrospect they’re trying to do by not allowing cell phone use near schools or while driving, etc.) I don’t think I was the only person to cringe when camera functions were added to phones. WHAT WERE THEY THINKING? Even if this technology was invented with “innocent” uses in mind, those who bought the idea further corrupted it—you can’t convince me it was NOT for greed and profit!

      I had to start a Facebook account as part of a class I was taking…I wish it hadn’t been a requirement! For one thing,I don’t like feeling I’m in a room with most of the people I know, 24/7,and that’s how it makes me feel. I rarely use it anymore—but people I know have friended and unfriended so many people…like that’s not a social stigma?

      What really seems ironic is the fact that by using Facebook, people are experiencing LESS real “FACE” time. Duh!

      Alice Mary

    8. Buggy

      It will be very interesting to see how the Amish adapt to the next few decades of rapid technological change. I have some faith that the Amish will handle this very well on the whole, based on centuries of survival, growth, and separation. Supposing they do embrace cell phones more and more, it will be no different than working in factory jobs away from home or having extensive regular contact with outsiders through running businesses. They have the ability to adapt technology to their communities. They are a source of much inspiration.