Ever wonder how people can live without modern technology? The Amish communities across North America have been doing it for centuries. As an Amish person, your life is centered around your faith, family, and community. While the rest of the world races toward the latest smartphone or streaming service, you live a simpler life without most modern innovations.
Electricity and televisions are out, as are most labor-saving devices. But that doesn’t mean the Amish shun all technology. As an Amish farmer or craftsperson, you still need tools to work the land or ply your trade. And for all the talk of a simple life, the Amish do make allowances for technologies that align with their values of community, family, and faith.
So how do the Amish decide what technology to use and what to avoid? Keep reading to get an inside look at the role technology plays in Amish life. You’ll gain a new appreciation for the conveniences of modern life and a sense of peace from the Amish way of embracing only the technologies that strengthen community connections.
The Amish and Technology: An Overview
The Amish are a traditional Christian group known for shunning most modern technology. However, their stance on technology isn’t quite as simple as most people assume. The Amish do adopt some technologies that they believe strengthen community connections.
Electricity and vehicles
The Amish forbid most uses of electricity and motorized vehicles. They don’t have televisions, radios, or computers in their homes. They travel by horse and buggy instead of cars. However, some Amish communities allow limited use of electricity for essential farm equipment or refrigeration. A few even allow solar panels or diesel generators for emergency use.
Most Amish don’t have telephones in their homes but do have communal phones for emergencies. Some Amish, especially business owners, have cell phones but with limited features like texting and calling. Phones are seen as disruptive to Amish family and community life, so access is restricted.
The Amish avoid most modern appliances and tools that would make farm work too convenient or separate people from their labor. Things like tractors, dishwashers, and power tools are forbidden. However, some Amish craftsmen and farmers do use pneumatic tools, batteries, and other technologies to improve safety and productivity. It’s ultimately up to each community and church district to decide which technologies to adopt or avoid based on their interpretation of religious rules regarding separation from the modern world, humility, and community.
While the Amish shun many technologies we take for granted, their approach aims to strengthen community bonds and spiritual life. Their mindful adoption of some technology when beneficial shows how we can all think more critically about our relationship with technology in today’s world.
Tools and Machines Used by the Amish
The Amish are known for shunning most modern technology, but that doesn’t mean they live entirely without machines and tools. They adopt selective technology that aligns with their values of community, simplicity, and separation from worldly influences.
Amish farmers use non-motorized farm equipment like plows, harrows, and threshers pulled by horses or mules. They also employ hydraulic and pneumatic power using pressurized air and water. Some Amish farms have diesel-powered equipment for tasks like grinding feed, pumping water, and powering air compressors, but they avoid using it for field work.
In Amish homes, you’ll find basic appliances powered by propane, natural gas or diesel generators, as well as non-electric tools. These include gas-powered refrigerators, stoves, washers, lighting, and space heaters. The Amish avoid appliances that are connected to public utility power grids.
For construction and woodworking, the Amish prefer manual tools like hammers, wrenches, chisels, and handsaws over power tools. However, some Amish carpenters and craftsmen use air-powered nail guns and sanders, and hydraulic equipment for tasks like logging and sawmilling. The Amish value craftsmanship, so power tools are only adopted if they don’t compromise the quality of the work.
The Amish aim to use technology sparingly and selectively in a way that strengthens community bonds rather than weakens them. Their choice of tools and machines allows them to be productive while staying true to their faith and values. With moderation and balance, they adopt technology on their own terms.
Transportation Methods of the Amish
The Amish are known for shunning most modern technology, but that doesn’t mean they don’t utilize transportation at all. In fact, the Amish employ several practical methods for getting around their communities and beyond.
Horse and Buggy
The iconic horse and buggy is a popular mode of transportation for the Amish. Nearly every Amish family owns at least one horse and buggy. The buggy is essential for attending church services, visiting friends and family, and getting to town. The Amish train horses from a young age to pull buggies and farm equipment. Caring for horses and maintaining the buggies provides work for many Amish.
Many Amish, especially the youth, get around by bicycle. Bikes offer an affordable and practical means of transportation over short distances for both recreational and utilitarian purposes. The Amish value physical labor and outdoor exercise, so cycling is a perfect fit.
Some Amish will carpool in vehicles with non-Amish neighbors and friends for longer trips to town or for business. The Amish can’t own or operate motor vehicles themselves, but riding as passengers in cars is permitted by many church districts. Carpooling allows the Amish to travel greater distances while still upholding their religious principles.
Busses and Trains
Public transit like busses, trains and van services are used by the Amish when traveling medium to long distances, especially for business or vacation travel between states and regions. While shunning personal vehicle ownership, the Amish readily utilize public systems for mobility and commerce needs.
The Amish have found ways to get where they need to go without compromising their religious values or way of life. Through a combination of traditional and modern transit options, the Amish remain connected to community while separated from worldly influences. Their chosen methods of transportation are practical, economical and environmentally-friendly.
Amish Use of Electricity and Appliances
The Amish are known for shunning most modern technology, but they do make some exceptions. When it comes to electricity and appliances, their usage is very limited and specific.
The Amish do not use public utility electricity in their homes or businesses. However, some Amish communities allow limited use of battery-powered appliances and generators. Batteries can power things like flashlights, calculators, and alarm clocks. Propane gas-powered generators are permitted by some groups to power equipment like refrigerators, washing machines, and water pumps.
Some Amish also use solar panels to generate power for a few select appliances and tools. Any power in Amish homes is used sparingly and only for essential tasks. Using too much power or for the wrong reasons can result in excommunication from the church group.
Most appliances are avoided by the Amish unless they are manually powered or deemed essential. Items like televisions, computers, and smartphones are banned. Some permitted appliances include:
- Refrigerators – Used to preserve food and powered by propane generators.
- Washing machines – Only manual, non-electric wringer washers are allowed.
- Water pumps – Used to pump well water and may be powered by propane generators.
- Sewing machines – Must be manually powered by a foot pedal or hand crank.
- Small kitchen tools – Things like mixers, blenders and food processors are allowed if manually powered.
- Farm equipment – The Amish use non-electric equipment like tractors and plows pulled by horses or mules.
The Amish aim to avoid worldly influences and value hard work, family, and faith. Their selective adoption of technology reflects these principles, only accepting tools and appliances that support their agrarian lifestyle, strengthen community bonds, and do not promote idleness or distraction from faith. Using electricity and modern appliances sparingly allows them to benefit from some progress while maintaining their values.
How the Amish Adapt Technology to Fit Their Lifestyle
The Amish are known for shunning most modern technology, but they have adapted some technologies to fit their lifestyle and values. While they live simply without electricity, automobiles or televisions, the Amish have found useful applications for certain technologies that aid in their work and community.
Batteries and Generators
The Amish do not use public utility electricity, but some Amish families use batteries, diesel generators, and solar panels for limited power. These provide energy for critical needs like powering water pumps, refrigerators for storing medicine, recharging batteries and operating some tools and appliances. The generators and solar panels are viewed as a practical way to ease physical labor, not for personal convenience or entertainment.
The Amish make extensive use of air-powered tools that run on compressed air and do not require electricity. Pneumatic tools like air compressors, air-powered wrenches, sprayers, and sanders are commonly used in Amish workshops and homes. These tools are efficient, durable and do not contradict their principles.
Certain mechanical technologies like propane-powered refrigerators, kerosene lanterns, hand water pumps, and wood-burning stoves are acceptable to the Amish. They rely on fuels like propane, kerosene, and wood rather than public utilities. Mechanical technologies that aid in productivity and commerce like tractors, portable mills, and diesel engines are also permitted if they are not used for personal transport.
Most Amish families have telephones, but not in their homes. Community telephone shanties or sheds house telephones that the Amish use for necessary business and emergency calls. Although convenient communication technologies like cell phones and the Internet are prohibited, the telephone is viewed as an acceptable tool for conducting commerce and remaining connected with the outside world when needed.
The Amish aim to preserve their community and faith, so they thoughtfully evaluate new technologies based on how they might strengthen or weaken family ties and religious traditions. By adapting some technologies to their values, the Amish have found a balance that allows them to prosper yet remain separate from worldly influences.
So while the Amish live simply and reject most modern technology, they haven’t completely cut themselves off from the modern world. Their selective adoption of technology allows them to run successful businesses, connect with non-Amish customers, and stay in touch with friends and family. At the end of the day, the Amish incorporate technology and tools that strengthen their community values and faith. For the rest of us overly plugged-in folks, the Amish provide an interesting example of using technology on your own terms to enhance what really matters in life. Maybe we have a thing or two we can learn from the Amish and their purposeful unplugging.
Ibrahim Shah is a passionate blogger with a deep interest in various subjects, including banking and Search Engine Optimization (SEO). He believes in the power of knowledge sharing and aims to provide valuable insights and tips through his blog.