10 votes

To be more tech-savvy, borrow these strategies from the Amish

4 comments

  1. [3]
    EgoEimi
    Link
    I'm sharing this because it's a short read that gives a tantalizing peek into a society that is intentional in how it manages its relationship with technology. It illuminates some nuances of Amish...

    I'm sharing this because it's a short read that gives a tantalizing peek into a society that is intentional in how it manages its relationship with technology. It illuminates some nuances of Amish thinking about technology, dispelling the notion that the Amish are somehow arbitrarily opposed by dogma to technology. Instead, they are conservative about their communitarian lifestyle and selectively use technology in ways that least disrupt said lifestyle.

    Also, can anyone comment on the veracity of the author's writing? Or expand on it?

    5 votes
    1. [2]
      elcuello
      Link Parent
      You make the article sound more complex than it is with your fancy words :). It's an interesting take and I could definitely see experience drawn from this in the future. Taking advise from...

      You make the article sound more complex than it is with your fancy words :). It's an interesting take and I could definitely see experience drawn from this in the future. Taking advise from not-so-tech people about how to use tech more effectively and overall less doesn't seem odd to me.

      This quote really stuck with me:

      Most Silicon Valley CEOs severely restrict their own children’s access to phones and screens.

      It's not surprising as it's depressing. Imagine Henry Ford restricting his son to one car ride a week because it's too dangerous.

      3 votes
      1. EgoEimi
        Link Parent
        The article is indeed not very complex. 🙂 But I found its societal angle interesting because it contrasts with the many other articles and essays that approach tech use through the individual or...

        The article is indeed not very complex. 🙂 But I found its societal angle interesting because it contrasts with the many other articles and essays that approach tech use through the individual or the family. Having the intention to weaken technology's grip on one's attention and life is good and all, but it's very difficult to act on it as an individual when one is in a society where nearly all activities—socializing, working—have become thoroughly mediated by or adjacent to technology.

        I think that a lot of our tech use are just organic Schelling points. We use the tech we do simply because the people in our lives use them. Everyone (whom I know) using WhatsApp or Messenger groups to make social plans, sharing their daily lives and opinions on Instagram, and so on. But we never really get together as a community — probably because we don't have a true community, only loose networks — to set explicit Schelling points and decide on the costs/benefits of adopting a certain technology.

        3 votes
  2. Atvelonis
    Link
    This reminds me of a comment I wrote on Tildes last month. I suggested that as our technologically infused society matures, perhaps over the course of some decades, the internet and related...

    The foundation of this ‘honourable alternative’ is to not adopt every single new technology, or use cars, phones and social media as soon as they become the norm. Instead, the Amish make slow and deliberate decisions as a collective. Rather than rushing optimistically or blindly into the future, they move forward cautiously, open but sceptical.

    This reminds me of a comment I wrote on Tildes last month. I suggested that as our technologically infused society matures, perhaps over the course of some decades, the internet and related advances will be seen less as "the essential next step of the human experience" and more as simply an option of how to live. The corollary is that while tech will never disappear from our lives, we will probably self-moderated our use of it more heavily.

    As it happens, Amish communities are home to plenty of tinkerers, hackers and technophiles. Just like early adopters who read the news online when ‘the internet’ was still a strange term, they rigged up light bulbs, bought telephones and surfed the web before their peers or church leaders knew much about them. Due to the decentralised nature of Amish religious life (there’s no Amish pope), no one set a policy for addressing these novelties. Contrary to what outsiders might expect, early adopters often aren’t censored, nor necessarily discouraged.

    This is a quality of the Amish that most people don't recognize: each individual community has vastly different norms on what constitutes a legitimate and collectively beneficial use of technology from one another. I feel that this maps appropriately onto the "rest of us" insofar as everyone who has "embraced technology" obviously has their own standards, preferences, and no-gos with regard to usage and manners of information-sharing. We absolutely can learn from communities who are selective about their adoption of technology, and I think we should.

    4 votes