Author Jeff Smith explores the Amish approach to technology, which is much more nuanced and pragmatic than one would assume, in this thoughtful Washington Post piece:
If your familiarity with the Amish doesn’t extend much beyond the image of a bearded man wearing a black hat and driving a horse and buggy on a rural road, you might have the impression that members of the traditionalist Christian group reflexively shun all modern technology. You’d be mistaken. Each church community of about 30 families — in a denomination with well over 300,000 members, spread across 31 states and parts of Canada and South America — has latitude in setting its technology boundaries.
He explains further:
When a church member asks to use a new technology, the families discuss the idea and vote to accept or reject. The conversation centers on how a device will strengthen or weaken relationships within the community and within families.
In a couple of examples, Smith points out that technology’s effect on social ties is carefully considered in these communities. Even with a hay baling innovation, he writes, “The risk to social cohesion, they decided, wasn’t worth the potential gains.”
Imagine if the United States had conducted a similar discussion when social media platforms were developing algorithms designed to amplify differences and then pit us against one another, because anger drives traffic and traffic drives profits.