“The Amish are hypocrites.” So this claim is hardly a new one. It’s something I’ve seen often enough over the years, both in comments here on the website and elsewhere. I just made a video about it, because I started to see it a lot in the YouTube comments on some videos, in particular one I did recently on how Amish keep food cool.
I address this question looking at what seems to be the main point of criticism: outsiders see Amish using technology in various ways, and they think this somehow is “cheating” or hypocrisy. The assumption of these folks seems to be that Amish take a moral position on technology and are “against” it.
In this calculation, creative Amish uses of technology are at best bending the rules. They shouldn’t be using technology at all, according to this view, assuming Amish take the position that technology is a bad thing. But the Amish don’t consider tech evil in and of itself (though they recognize that use of tech, like other tools, can lead to evil or be used for evil purposes, so they restrict its use in various ways).
Nor do they take a public position against others using technology. They don’t preach against it or critique us for using it – at least not officially and publicly; sure, some Amish may hold such opinions, but I’ve not much felt that Amish look down on non-Amish for their use of technology.
Quite the contrary in fact, as many Amish make use of the fruits of technology – motor vehicle transport, medical procedures, mass-produced goods, and so on. And I think they are aware of and appreciate the benefits they gain from their targeted use of technology. They just simply try to be more thoughtful about adopting everything under the sun, with no limitations or consideration of how it might affect their family and church community lives.
Creative use of technology often allows them to tap into those benefits, while limiting exposure to risk of negative effects of modern devices. An example is the phone shanty. The phone is useful, but Amish don’t want it ringing during dinner and drawing the children (and parents for that matter) away from face-to-face family time, multiple times a day.
But if they need to use it, they can make a 50-yard trip to the end of the lane, or further to a community-shared phone, to handle all their business (usually by leaving messages) and then come back home. Or, they have a set phone time when they’ll be by the line and can receive calls in a limited window. They tap the benefits while controlling the downside of this communication tool.
So I get into the question from that perspective. Of course, Amish individuals can be hypocritical, like any other individuals. But this video addresses the question from the broader perspective, which I see to be most often rooted in the use of technology issue.
Here’s the video, I hope you enjoy (Runtime: 7:29).
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