Diane Zimmerman Umble, “Sinful Network or Divine Service: Competing Meaning of the Telephone in Amish Country”

New advances in media are often considered an improvement for the larger society, allowing for better communication through the use of superior technology that usually replaces an old inadequate form. A collection of essays entitled New Media, 1740 – 1915 examine what is now perceived as “old” media and the implications they had on society upon their introduction. While most new media is venerated and expected amongst contemporary society, some produced a negative effect. One specific instance is analyzed in “Sinful Network or Divine Service: Competing Meanings of the Telephone in Amish Country,” where the debut of the telephone at the beginning of the twentieth century caused intense debates within two traditionalist Amish communities, Old Order Mennonites and Old Order Amish. This chapter highlights the disputes that erupted when new media emerged, a case that the author Dianne Umble argues is often overlooked.

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