Saturday, January 25, 2014

Do the Amish use cell phones?

“Text you? Are you serious?” I asked an Amish woman in Ohio. I want to interview her since she’s an Amish convert, an interesting read for this blog. But, she hit a nerve. Why? Because the whole issue of using cell phones is dividing, literally, the Amish in Smicksburg and Amish I know in New York.

You see, technology seems to have no boundaries; even toy cell phones for babies are sold. So I suppose from birth, we’re to know about cell phones. Gag! I went up to Smicksburg this past week and somehow I feel cleansed inside, a baptism into a simpler time, my child-like faith and wonder renewed.
What’s happening in this precious small town in Western Pennsylvania, sixty miles NE of Pittsburgh, is the need to have jobs run by Englishers, non-Amish. They have to carry a cell phone as a job requirement. Well, many are moving up to Punxsutawney, some fifteen miles north, where a more liberal stance is being held on cell phone use. They can use their cell phones on business hours, but have to turn them off afterwards. Right…I know through the grapevine some are reading my eBooks on Smartphones. Although I’m honored, somehow I wish they’d just buy a paperback and be…old-fashioned? I can’t even describe what I’m trying to say, but cell phones have invaded the Amish in a way that shocks me.

When Noah, Joe and Melvin practically lived at our house while putting on the addition five years ago, they wouldn't use a phone unless it was attached to a wall. Not even my cordless. So I asked why? (Inside I’m thinking…”What’s the difference?”) Well, Noah told me privately, due to its sensitive nature that some Amish were using phones with pictures and looking at “girly pics” passed around by co-workers on construction jobs. (I wrote about this issue in my book, Amish Knitting Circle)

Now, the Amish are watching those totally fake shows about them and are very hurt. Some say they have a hard time holding their heads up in public due to things said on those shows. But their minds wouldn't even be filled with such pollution if it weren't for cell phones. Their long held view of persecution, that it’s part of being a “peculiar people” is now being replaced with shame? How sad.

The Amish had many decisions to make around the 1920’s concerning the automobile. They’re at a similar crossroads now with all the new technology. I hope they take a stand and keep the outside world at bay, like they did with television. When I go to Smicksburg, I don’t want conversations interrupted by a text message. 
The most viewed picture on Amish Crossings blog. Readers say they love the simplicity and peace in my Amish friend's home. Lydia's place will never be disturbed by a cell phone, a constant in life I value. 


  1. Hi Karen, I have noticed more and more books that I read in Amish Fiction have the People carrying cell phones, and some even have had one or two characters hiding them from their family or Bishop. Maybe the fiction is mirroring what is taking place today in their communities. I think it's sad, though. Part of their appeal is the stance on keeping away from technology. That being said, maybe they feel like a little compromise in that area will keep their young people from leaving the community. I don't know :/

  2. I am not Amish, but I consider myself very behind the times as far as technology goes. I suppose the only technological thing I have is my laptop. I have a television but no VCR or DVD, but I do have a CD player and radio. I have never had a cell phone and I suppose in this day and age I am way behind the times as it were. The interview of the Amish would be a fascinating read!

  3. We do business with the Amish. They're good hard working people in our experience. A bit different, but certainly in a good way. Overall, this society would be a whole lot better off if we all had the faith, work ethic, and self-reliant accountability of the average Amish adult. Are there bad ones in the bunch? Sure, because they’re humans. But in our experience we’d trust the average Amish at their word more than we would the average “English”. The more this society slips downward, the more we respect the Amish,

  4. Amish aren't even allowed to be in front of a camera they believe it steals their soul if a picture is taken of them. You'll find a lot of Amish are unfortunately identifying themselves as such in order to make money from it. Even those who own Amish stores and stuff... Old order Amish wouldn't even be okay with electricity coming from an outside line. Let alone taking credit cards or having cell phones.