Have you ever heard anyone make a claim like “the Amish are against technology”, or that they “shun” modern conveniences? There is even the idea that Amish think technology is “evil”. I recall the video for the silly Weird Al Yankovic song, with Amish feet stomping on a pile of gadgets in one scene.
These ideas are out there, and they get perpetuated by television programs, memes, and other media on the Amish. It’s often the first thing that comes to mind when people with casual knowledge think “Amish” – the people that don’t use technology. “Amish” even becomes shorthand for a person in society who is anti-technology.
I find this to be a pretty common misunderstanding/oversimplification.
So I just made a video on the topic (I started a YouTube channel for Amish America about 2 months ago – more on that in an upcoming post).
In the video I discuss whether Amish think tech is evil, why they use technology differently than non-Amish do, and differences in different Amish communities.
I also look more closely at one particular example – the car. Why do (most) Amish ride in cars – but (generally) don’t own or drive them?
You can watch the video below, or here. It’s been a fun experience making these, and I hope to get better and better at it (I’m about 18 videos in at this point). I’ll share some more on all that in future. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy.
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We can learn from them
After studying the Amish for many years I’ve come the conclusion that if the rest of us were more like them we’ve have a lot fewer problems with modern life. They carefully assess the impact of new technology and try to see the longview, then limit and control their use to stay true to their family and community values. I admire their steadfastness, and uncompromising values.
I also appreciate this thoughtfulness about technology on the part of the Amish. I do think you are correct in that there is something there for people of any background in today’s world.
The differences in where to “draw the line” so to speak is where it gets really interesting, in my opinion. For example in a community like Holmes County, where you have groups living next door to one another with vastly different acceptance of technology.
Amish probably evaluate technology better than we do.
Not sure where I read this, possibly on this site very site. Regardless, it has been quite a few years ago so am hoping that I can remember this the way it was presented.
Essentially, in a similar discussion (somewhere) the comment was made that most Amish use a somewhat informal process to evaluate “change”; be it technology, societal or otherwise.
It goes something like this; the “change” is evaluated (again very informally) by individuals and families and therefore the church community or body as a whole with three basic questions in mind. They are: Is this “change” likely to be Positive, or is it likely to be Neutral, or is it likely to be Negative for our church, community AND our immediate family?
If the answer is NEGATIVE to any of those three, it is unlikely to ever be accepted community wide. If the answer is NEUTRAL for any or all of those three it is likely to get further evaluation before being accepted or rejected. Obviously if it is seen as a POSITIVE thing it may get some further evaluation to determine if the assumption that it is indeed a POSITIVE thing is correct, but it may just gradually come into acceptance.
I wish I could remember where I read that, because I may not be stating this properly. I do know that the comment was made that this doesn’t always have to result in a “church” decision, because these issues are so inherent in the Amish value system that individuals will almost automatically process the data in their own minds before it ever becomes an issue.
Haven’t been in the neighborhood lately, but Congrats to Erik on the videos. A nice addition, IMHO.
And I promise,
I had NOT watched the video on this particular subject before I made that post.
Kind of interesting to see that Erik made almost the same point that I did about technology and its impact on the Amish Church, community and families. Makes me think that I probably did read that statement on AA.
See, If I had just paid that close attention to my school lessons I might have actually amounted to something in my life!!!
It’s a great example of a culture adapting, in its own way, in order to continue. Technology is a tool and all tools need to be tempered, one can choose Amish YouTube or something else. I’m definitely going to enjoy this new channel! It was great to get a look at you, Webmaster. Thank you!
Thank you! I’m glad you liked it. Tools are tools, and can be used for good or evil, I believe it’s been said.
Keep it coming!
Great job–down to earth and non-judgmental. In some ways, there is nothing “simple” about the Amish, both because of their structure (districts) and because their mindset is quite different. They are coming from a very different place, in a sense. Videos and information like this are becoming so important as social media continues to spread misinformation and parochial outlooks with regard to the “plain people.”
As others have already commented, rather than labeling and/or ascribing beliefs to the Amish, we might be much best served by attempting to understand their mindset and approach to things like technology. Non-Amish thinking is often about trying to change the world. The Amish are perhaps more concerned with how the world might change them.
One suggestion I might make for future videos is that you introduce yourself at the beginning!
Thanks Walter! I appreciate that. And, I’ve considered what you suggest about intro-ing myself, a good idea to consider.
I might do that on some videos at least. Still feeling that part out, my thinking was I didn’t want to be repetitive and/or waste people’s time at the beginning – rather than diving right into the content. However, I see other Youtubers do it in a smooth way.
For now at least, I have a written intro in the Youtube description of each video. But, I might try that at the next recording session. I appreciate the suggestion (and others are welcome). I’ve blogged for going on 15 years…but I am quite new to the videos. I’m enjoying the learning curve.
You also make good points about the misinformation. I hope my videos contribute for the positive.
Lastly – I really liked how you succinctly put the change the world/change them point. I might need to quote you in a future video 🙂
I love being quoted! 🙂
I only recently started doing videos myself (not Amish-related). The learning curve is challenging! I don’t think intros need to be long and boring… I tend to describe the video in a teaser–sometimes by asking a pointed question, then simply stating who I am.
“When’s the last time an Amish person walked up to you and started asking you… why you dress that way? why you spend so much time on your smart phone?”
“I’m Erik from Amish America and today we’re going to ask ourselves some questions the Amish won’t.”
I’m just old-fashioned enough to believe content is king–the medium is not the message–or at least it shouldn’t be! You’re definitely on the right track.
That’s a good simple intro model Walter, I might try sth like that in the next session, thanks. I guess intro-ing oneself does not need to take long at all. This latest video was actually sectioned out of a much longer recording on Amish beliefs. But for other standalone videos I’ve been doing a bit different opening usually with a preview or teaser. I think the teaser is important to help people know what to expect and get the most out of the video by sticking around for longer. There might be some good info you cover toward the end that it’s helpful to know about. Of course the info actually has to be worth the teaser, so I am trying to keep that in mind 🙂 What is your channel about? I hope you’ll share it with us here.
I did not know about this YouTube channel until reading this article. I subscribed and am looking forward to seeing more videos in the future.
Glad you found it Omar! Also, I didn’t mention but video topic suggestions are welcome.
Great video, Erik. I enjoy your videos and columns and have for several years now. Keep up the good work! I am sure many of us appreciate all your efforts. Stay well.
Thank you Kathy, I know you’ve been around for awhile here now, which is great. Glad you’re liking the videos too!
You Tube Videos
It’s been very nice “seeing” you on your new channel. I think you explain amish topics really well!! You’re also very personable. Wishing you great success on You Tube.
Thank you Debbie! Very kind of you. I never planned to make videos, but now that I’ve started I’m enjoying it, and I hope that comes through.
I think people should leave them alone and let them live their lives in peace and respect whatever feelings they may have. I noticed also an article from a northern New England news station that seemed to be bias like most of the media but anyway they were talking about trying to think of ways of pushing the vaccine on them despite the fact the virus has an over 99% cure rate without any vaccine and despite the fact many things have been hidden from the public on purpose.