FACEBOOK AND THE AMISH: The Daily Mail over in England is a shrill, tabloid-y newspaper with screaming headlines and lots of titillating stories. It’s an OK paper for superficial stories, but not so much for educational, in-depth reading. They ran a story today about Amish youth who use Facebook. First of all, this isn’t anything new. I think we first talked about it on this site a couple of years ago. But, yes, a growing number of Amish, especially teens, do use Facebook. Cell phones combine portability, discretion, and internet access into one irresistible palm-sized portal. Who could resist? Apparently a lot of Amish youth can’t. The reality is that as smart phones because smarter and smaller, it is going to get increasingly difficult for Amish churches to stamp them out completely. Click here to read the Daily Mail article. The Daily Mail article, like many mainstream media pieces, oversimplifies the term “rumspringa.” Rumspringa is a period when a number of Amish youth experiment and push boundaries. We have a phrase for it in non-Amish culture, it’s called “being a teenager.” A lot of these articles make rumspringa sound like some formal church requirement, and that simply isn’t the case. Rumspringa really is not much more than teenage antics found the world over. Click here to read a deeper explanation of rumspringa (Scroll down to Lesson 4).
I do know some Amish (I don’t usually do this, but in the interest of full disclosure and just keeping her out of any trouble…it is NOT Lovina or any of her family) who do use Facebook, both adults and teens. It is interesting to see some of the very personal posts and how Plain life has evolved to be showcased online. The Amish adults I do know of who are on Facebook generally post very innocuous things: photos of flowers, sunsets, birthday wishes,their children and occasionally a witty observation or two. The Amish teens that I know of who are on Facebook are amazingly savvy about adjusting their privacy settings so prying eyes (like mine!) can’t see too much. But occasionally a racy photo can be seen.
Is any of this behavior detrimental to Amish culture?
That is a question that only the Amish themselves can answer and like most new technologies that come around they’ll grapple with it and eventually come to a consensus, but this is a process that will take years. In the meantime, more and more Amish will find their way onto Facebook.