Learn Selective Technology Use From The Amish


example of amish selective technology use

The Amish have an interesting approach to new technology. It is often misinterpreted by outsiders as they believe technology is evil. When in fact the approach is simply a selective use of technology.

They evaluate whether a new piece of technology is going to improve their community and community values. If it cannot be demonstrated how it will improve the life of their community they will reject it.

The process works something like this:
• Someone brings a new piece of technology to the community leaders.

• The community leaders assign someone else in the community (or multiple people) to test out this new piece of technology.

• They keep a close eye on it – if they can see the technology is taking hold of the person rather than the other way around they end the test.

• The person who tests the technology reports back to the community on if and how the new technology could improve their lives.

• If there is no benefit they do not use it.

The community is quite clever in they do not assign the responsibility of testing new technology to the same few people rather they spread it out amongst a wide group.

The car is a perfect example of their selective technology use in practice.

Amish communities choose not to use the car. The car means people can travel more easily outside of the town in order to find work or shop. This weakens the community by eroding local ties. Instead they use horse and cart transportation in order to keep the community anchored to its local base.

The attitude the Amish adopt toward technology is certainly opposite to most of the world. I think there is value in being selective in how we adopt technology. Just because it is new or more efficient it does not necessarily mean it helps us accomplish what we want.

We, as individuals and collectively, need to decide what is we want from technology. Without a strong guiding compass we are prone to being pulled in different directions. I see great strength in rejecting what is not useful.

  • Gabriel

    “We, as individuals and collectively, need to decide what is we want from technology.”
    This pretty much sums it up for me. Sometimes I find myself buying the latest piece of tech just for the sake of it. Looking to change this.

    • Sally Fitzs

      I am the same Gabriel. Have been trying to get better in 2014 – so far so good as I do not have the latest iphone.

      • Jason Schulz

        That is a good start Sally :-)

    • Jason Schulz

      Glad you were able to get a take away Greg. Good luck!

  • Nam

    Great post Jason. Always enjoyable to read about unique topics like this – thanks. The image is amazing too!

    • Jason Schulz

      Thanks Nam. The image is very cool, plenty more of them if you search ‘amish barn raising’ on google images.