Learning to be digital from the Amish


Yes, from the Amish. THOSE Amish.

Learning to be digital from the Amish /img/amish-america.jpg

Do Amish use electricity, and digital technologies? Most people would probably answer “no” without hesitation, but it’s not strictly true. Reality is more complicated, and extremely interesting. Bayley Line Road (BLR), for example, explains that:

  • “while Amish households generally do have a land line telephone, it usually is in a little building some distance from the house”, to make “wasting aimless hours on the phone… less enticing”
  • As far as electricity is concerned, it is not electricity as such that the Amish reject, but rather “easy access to vast quantities of electricity”. The Amish “always produce the electricity they need using technology that’s not connected to the grid”

WHY? Unlike what one may think, the main reason is not environmental issues. It is, quoting BLR again, the Amish firm belief that “one way to make use of a technology without having it dominate your heart and soul is to make it less convenient”.

Amish America says the same thing, but going even deeper:

“Amish do not use power from the public electric grid due to a belief that too much reliance on public power ties one too close to the world…. Amish are careful about what they let into their homes, a fundamental sphere of Amish existence.”

Be more Amish. It makes a LOT of sense

We should all be a bit more Amish on these matters. Not for religious or philosophical reasons (even if there would be nothing wrong with them!), but for strictly pragmatical and political (non-partisan) ones.

Keeping phones as far as possible is a great way to reduce stress and get one’s priority straight, and you don’t even need a phone outhouse to do that. Just make your own Stolp.

As far as electricity goes, producing it locally is not just an environmental or philosophical issue. This is about politics.

Not depending on some huge company, or from governments, for energy means having more freedom. And, at least in the medium and long term, it is not a choice that is or should remain available only to “rich” people who can afford their own home and land. Solutions at the building, or neighborhood level are possible in many places, and should get much more attention.

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