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.