We seem to be fascinated with the Amish in today’s society. Breaking Amish is a popular reality TV show. Why are we so curious about a people that not only dislike but generally refuse to be interviewed or photographed? Is it just the unknown that attracts us? The individuals I spoke to all commented on the ridged, inflexibility of the lives of the Amish and their harsh penalties. My in-laws came from Amish and Mennonite stock so I have a slightly different take on those harsh penalties. I am by no means an expert but will try my best to draw a parallel that is flawed and incomplete.
What others consider harsh is, in part, just life. You are never far from a natural disaster when you live extremely close to nature. Drought, fire, flood, pests (you get the idea) can descend on your home, crops and way of life rendering you helpless. The time to prepare is before the natural event. You prepare for the off-seasons when you can’t grow your food by setting aside for it. This is a way of life for the Amish; they set aside for the winters, for a slow or no growing season. They set aside to provide for themselves as well as for their children, livestock and even a little bit more for their neighbors. They are extremely hard working people and like any group of people there will be an extremist. The strict attention to providing for themselves without outside aid is often misinterpreted as harsh. It is not harsh but a chosen way of life, each child is given plenty of time to consider and make that choice before joining the church. The television “stars” that have joined the church and are now “breaking free”, are pursuing something similar to a divorce. The commitment was made and then broken. My in-laws chose to leave the community when their approved time to choose arrived. They were not shunned but the chosen way of life set them apart from the friends they grew up with. All Amish are given the choice. Not all outside the Amish community are given choices.
Then there is the shunning, what’s that all about? The shunning is to protect their way of life. If you join the church and then break with it, you are usually shunned because you have broken one of their most sacred commitments. It is a matter of trust. If you don’t join the church, the shunning doesn’t always happen. You are not included in many of the “church” activities but the harsher shunning is not automatic. Social opportunities are limited because they usually occur within the church but the level of shunning is up to the local leaders.
Contrast this with the modern high-tech world. You wouldn’t think our society practices shunning, right? Well, we do, and we do it big! Social media is the preferred method of communication for many young people and the young at heart. I even have four social media accounts. Almost everyone has a smart cell phone these days. How do you communicate? Do you sit down and linger over a cup of coffee, spend the evening at a friend’s house for dinner, dessert and a few hours of conversation? Plan a shopping trip for the new season of fashion? Probably not?
We are fast paced, hurry, leave a message, post a status so you don’t have to tell everyone individually and generally rush through life. How quick are people to defriend, block and remove from social media people they would never openly tell them they are doing it? This is modern day shunning.
Vaugebooking is the disturbing passive aggressive practice of withholding information in an extremely immature way in order to elicit attention and sympathy.
From the internet:
“Today has gotten the best of me. I’m just not feeling it. Some people just don’t understand how their actions affect others. Signing off now.” What do you think, hide them from your newsfeed or full out shun them? Do they need help or are you enabling sick behavior? Is it your job to see to their mental health? Are you your brother’s keeper? Is this a friend in a face to face relationship? Perhaps it would be best to not feed the bear and ignore vaguebooking by refusing to ask the questions the author is trolling for. If it is a friend, then you have a phone number to use.
I assert that lasting relationships are intentional and love is not a just a noun but a verb. My best friend has already retired, yet she is intentional in keeping our friendship alive. Today, we have a lunch planned. She will pick me up in front of my office building and whisk me away for a few minutes of catch up, food and laughter. When my beloved died, she paid a bridge toll and drove the 30 minutes to my house every day for a month. We send emails; have regular phone calls and the occasional outing or lunch. It is intentional and Facebook is not where our friendship is maintained.
Social Media is a euphemism for a relationship. It looks and feels like shunning from real relationships because it is popular but, as time progress and you find yourself needing a friend with skin on, will your thousands of “friends” be there? When you call for help because you have fallen in life, who will come? Who have you invested in?