The Wall Street Journal had an interesting article about the Hutterites, a group of people closely related to the Amish. There are about 49,000 of them, and they are Anabaptist Christians living in the northern U.S. plains and in Canada.
The Hutterites live simple lives and are self sufficient. They grow their own food and make their own clothes, and they do not embrace many practices of the outside world. They speak a unique German dialect.
Yet some of the younger Hutterites have cell phones and are often seen text messaging one another. Unlike the Amish who shun almost all technology, the Hutterites are willing to accept some technology if they believes it improves their colonies. They don’t allow television or farming equipment, but they have allowed cellphones. The catch is that one colony in Canada with 126 residents only allows 5 cell phones to be shared among them.
Some colony members are displeased with the use of the cellphones and the text messaging. Some of the most worrisome aspects of the cell phones are the features like cameras and Internet access. These things are banned in almost all colonies, but the availability of them with the cell phones is creating temptation. Colony members also worry about the connection to the outside community, and wonder whether it will encourage some of the younger members to leave the colonies all together.
One of the key aspects of Hutterite life is the community. Everyone owns everything in the colony. There is no individual ownership, and everyone wears the same clothing and eats together in a large dining room. They all live in nearly identical apartments. The cell phones are starting to differentiate some group members, and the future is uncertain.