It’s pretty common knowledge that the hat-donning, mustache-lacking, farm folk known as the Amish actively shun the modern comforts you or I simply couldn’t live without. That’s sometimes funny about them, as few Hollywood productions prove; however, you should know that there is more than meets the eye with these humble people.
You see, many of whom are actually more modern than you may realize. Though they may opt for the horse-drawn buggy over the convenience of a car, you may be surprised by the cell phones clipped to their belts and the sunglasses shielding their eyes as they cruise down the highways of Pennsylvania. So, what else do they use?
10. Bikes, Scooters & Roller Blades
Farms are big places, especially when you don’t have a pickup truck or tractor to hop on. So, while walking everywhere will certainly keep you fit, it will also eat up a lot of time. Which is why in most Amish communities, you will see bearded folk zooming about their farms on bicycles. Not all communities are too keen on the use of bikes, though.
9. Washing Machines
Like the kettle and the blender, the washing machine is a chronically underrated appliance that turns an arduous, day-long endeavor into a few simple button pushes. Though most of today’s washing machines require a pretty healthy amount of electricity, some can be powered using a diesel generator. This means the off-the-grid Amish are free to use them.
You would think that the Amish wouldn’t really have much use for a fridge, but in 1969, the milk companies required the Amish to cool their milk in large, refrigerated bulk tanks rather than their rustic milk cans. To resolve this power dilemma, the Bishops of Lancaster Amish allowed these bulk tanks to have refrigeration units. The caveat was that they were required to be powered by off-grid methods such as gas or diesel engines.
7. Planes, Trains & Automobiles
The Amish are not allowed to own automobiles, and that is a rule they adhere to across all communities. The reason for this is that owning a car is a sign of status and could promote vanity and competition between members of the community. This is very much against the Amish values of modesty and the simple life. However, this doesn’t mean that they are not allowed to use modern transport. They’re free to hop on trains and buses, even hiring taxis if necessary.
6. Telephones And Cell Phones
The telephone is certainly one of the most revolutionary inventions we’ve yet witnessed. Most people would agree that the telephone had a role in aggressively pushing the expansion of both technology and humanity. This is why it’s often a tad baffling that the Amish use phones so frequently. When the phone became popular in the early 1900s, the Amish banned them outright. Like their attitude toward cars and public transport, they softened their stance to allow the use of phones, just denying ownership of one.
5. Genetically Modified Crops And Pesticides
Biotechnology and the genetic modification of crops is perhaps the most modern farming technique one could think of, but 550 Amish farmers in Pennsylvania alone grow and harvest genetically modified crops without a second thought. While this may seem a tad hypocritical, Amish scholars argue that “genetically enhanced crops are not inconsistent with the simple life that is central to Amish beliefs” and that these crops “help maintain ties to agriculture, allowing families to work together.”
4. Solar Power
Relying on oil and gas for electricity has a certain stigma to it and is often viewed as an archaic mindset. Thinking green is one of the most progressive stances a person can take, so why do the Amish love this state-of-the-art energy technology? For a start, solar panels keep the Amish off the electricity grid, enhancing their separation from today’s society. As Amish expert Donald Kraybill says, “It’s like tapping into God’s grid instead.”
3. Modern Medicine
Though the stance regarding healthcare varies between the different communities, the Amish on the whole have no qualms with the use of modern medicine. These choices often come down to a family’s personal preference. They tend to gravitate toward home remedies such as herbal teas and reflexology, though some will use vaccines and antibiotics. Life-saving operations like bypass surgeries are allowed. Some slightly more “frivolous” procedures like hip replacements are not uncommon within the communities.
2. Magazines And Advertising
Advertising has been around for thousands of years, dating back to the time of the ancient Egyptians. Despite this age-old practice, advertisements have never failed to bring a modern touch to their contexts. Even though printed media has been around for hundreds of years, the notion of simple folk like the Amish putting their feet up at the end of a hard day in the fields only to read a glossy magazine full of adverts seems a bit out of place. However, the Amish use of advertising does make sense.
1. Computers And The Internet
While the notion of cell phones within Amish communities might seem a tad hypocritical, the use of computers and even the Internet takes the biscuit completely. Like the use of cell phones, computers and the Internet are used strictly for business purposes. Those who use them argue that, in today’s uber-competitive world, they need the Internet to sell their products. In some ways, it is one of the most useful advertising platforms out there.
However, the Amish don’t log on themselves. After all, they don’t have the telecommunication cables in their communities, let alone an electrical grid to power the necessary equipment. Instead, they use middlemen and third parties to create, run, and maintain their websites.