Tator Tots and the Amish


The family of four was diligent.

Crowded around a table in the busy restaurant all four heads were bowed, giving thanks for the meager meal they were about to consume. Faithfully praising God for the bounty he had provided, the corporate prayer stretched onward. An amazing thanksgiving marathon for what looked to be a few measly burgers and a couple handfuls of tator tots.

It went on so long in fact that I began to wonder if they weren’t praying for something bigger.

‘Holy evangelicals batman!’ this was hardcore.

Had they come from the hospital? Were they fresh off of a close-call traffic accident? Surely something must explain this five minute prayer vigil.

As the time stretched on I began to think how pathetic my families’ mealtime prayers were and how we could learn a lot from this crew of holy rollers. I glanced back at them a minute later, half expecting to see the anointing of heads with oil and foot washing.

And that’s when I saw it; the telltale jerking motion of the mom’s texting thumb suddenly revealing my folly.

These people weren’t bowing their heads in prayer at all. This wasn’t adoration, supplication or thanksgiving for anything but their smart phones. They had their heads bowed engrossed in tagging themselves, texting and liking stuff online –all four of them.

An entire family, eating corporately, engrossed in anything but their dining partners; sharing geography, condiments and exactly nothing else

Hashtag: pathetic.

The scene was endemic of our time. Handheld computers and social networking have morphed into another excuse to ignore our kids—and are further arming them to ignore us. Computers are supposed to make our lives better, not erode our social skills and attention spans while simultaneously short circuiting our relationships. That’s what TV and alcohol are for.

Longing for a simpler time?

So was Jake Reilly, a full-time college student turned part time Amish dude.

Sick of being a slave to technology and looking to check back into life, he took the idea of a “technology fast” to the next level. Jake started “The Amish Project” dumping email, social media and his cell phone for a period of 90 days opting instead for the digital equivalent of churning his own butter.

Completely off the grid he simplified his life. And while he found many things harder at first, he ultimately adapted and found it better for his relationships, his mental health and his fitness level.

The guy survived despite 90 days in which he scored zero points on Words with Friends, poked no one, and was forced to give “thumbs up” solely with his actual thumbs.

Not only survived, but thrived.

Time was abundant and Jake was able to re-engage in reading, meditation, riding a bike, throwing a football, and even the lost art of writing letters.

It seems simplifying your life leaves you with –a simpler life.

Imagine that.

What do you think?

• Could you pull off 90 days without a cell phone, the internet or friendbook? What would you most miss? What wouldn’t you miss?

• How can we make sure we are still making connections despite all of the distractions?

• Does your family pray before meals when dining out?

Posted by

Christian. Father. Hawkeye. Male pattern baldness survivor.

4 thoughts on “Tator Tots and the Amish

  1. We strive as a family to keep the cell phones away from the dinner table. What are we teaching the next generation about conversation if we jump every time the iPhone chirps? As for losing connections, you’d hope the friends made while wired in would remain so off the grid. If not, was it really that important of a friendship? Yes, it would be more difficult but we’re not talking about setting everything with a plug on the curb and moving into the nearest cave.

    By the way, I’m fully aware of the irony of discussing the ills of technology while typing a comment on this website, seated in front of a computer, while Pandora blasts the latest Justin Beiber tracks in my ears.

  2. We still do meals every night as a family, since we still have that luxury (no kids in seriously involved extra curricular activities). Johnny Appleseed still get sung before we dig into our food, followed by a prayer. We do let our 4 or 6 year old attempt prayers as well, where shoes and socks, jumpity jumps and trampolines still get top billing for things to be thankful for. To not draw attention to ourselves while dining out, “rub a dub, dub, thanks for the grub, yeah God, Amen” gets used because it is concise. My wife and I consider ourselves lucky that phones or tablets are not even remotely part of our dining experience today.

    On a separate note, if we take a sabbatical from mobile technology, how am I supposed to use my daily Bible application? Oh, wait, there is an old fashioned paper-based solution for that as well . . .

  3. I went out for dinner with a bunch of Google consultants. We all had devices and were busy checking sports scores and Instagramming our appetizers. We realized it was ridiculous and stacked up our phones and played the “If you touch it, you pick up the tab.” Rest of the dinner was #awesome.

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