Monday, September 24, 2007

The Amish and Cell Phones

As most people know the Amish avoid using certain technologies. They think that some technologies are disruptive to the community. In the past the Bishops would meet and decide if a certain technology is okay to use. They do not use electricity over wires, but batteries are okay. However note that with electric wires or phone wires or cars (which need roads) the Amish Bishops can enforce their decisions. Not so anymore.

A long time ago they banned phones. They later made some allowances for having a phone booth for emergencies, but no phones in the house, for it would disrupt family time (the ultimate DO-NOT-CALL list). But more and more Amish are doing business with the outside world and as such phones are needed. More and more of them are using Cell phones (see Look whose talking).

I do not think Cell Phones are the real issue here. The real issue is that we now have technologies that an individual can use without the permision of the community. We also have dual-use technologies, so rules like `you can use it for business but not for entertainment or gossip' may be hard to control.

I was told by an Amish Man that the Bishops have ruled against Cell Phones and computers. But as batteries get better (and most of them have contacts on the outside who can recharge for them) I'll be curious how well this holds up. Will the authority of the bishops and the desire to hold the community together be enough to make the rules self-enforcing?

1 comment:

  1. Oooh, Amish Man! Wonder what superpowers he has...