I’ve had a hard time expressing myself because I was so fearful thinking I’m being selfish if I do.But I found out if I communicated right, it makes my life easier, and it makes life easier for other people because I’m not grumpy.
And then I got back on Plenty of Fish and [eventually] met my boyfriend. One thing that me and my boyfriend are doing is we don’t text much at all.Khazan: Some people think social media is making us lonely. He’s big on talking face-to-face or calling on the phone, which I really like.One cold January day in 2006, at in the afternoon, Emma took off her bonnet and walked out the door of her family’s small farmhouse. Now living in a suburb of Dallas, Emma blends in well. A lightly edited transcript of our conversation follows. I didn't know how to use it but I figured it out when the time came. I was in shock for days after I found that on the Internet.She left a note for her parents: The life she found could not be more different. Accustomed to making supper for her family of 16, she learned to cook for one. She wears brightly colored blouses and a full face of makeup. Olga Khazan: What technology were you already using when you left? Another person that had been Amish and had left gave me the cellphone. Khazan: How did you figure out how to use it when the time came? Gingerich: I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to hear anybody because I had never talked to somebody on the phone. That encouraged me to look more and more and more, to see if there was more stuff out there about my family that I don’t know about. Gingerich: He was accused of sleeping with his daughters.Gingerich: I just dialed a number and figured out what button to push to make it call out. [I thought], “ All kinds of things were going through my head. Khazan: How did that affect you, seeing information about your granddad on the Internet? Some of them do have a phone outside the house in a little shack. The thing is, if people do split off to a more a liberal church, the ones that stay, family members are divided, even. Gingerich: The family that I stayed with in Missouri for a few days, they knew the people in Harlingen, so they got me in touch.
Khazan: The concept of phones, you were familiar with that? But after it was done, I felt pretty good about it, that I had accomplished it. I enjoy looking at different hashtags on Instagram and looking at pictures from all around the world. Gingerich: What got me the most was that my parents never talked to us about stuff like that. And that causes problems when there is a wedding, for example, because then some of the family members are not included as much in the wedding party as they would have been if they had stayed. Khazan: So you didn’t know English when you left, really?It sounds like people meet each other as teenagers at church sing-alongs. But if you like someone you immediately are supposed to spend the night in their bed, but not necessarily have sex.Was it a weird adjustment, to use a website to find a boyfriend?I was practicing the letters, and I couldn’t figure out why some of them are big and some of them are little and why aren't they all the same size? I thought I had to hit caps lock every time I wanted a big letter. Khazan: You said that there are more people leaving now and coming back. Khazan: How long did it take for you to get better? I felt comfortable right as I was graduating with my associate’s degree. There were a few times I would call a friend, bawling my eyes out, saying I’m going to quit, I can’t get through this any more, because of homework and trying to figure out APA-style formatting. There were a few times where I thought, “Why am I doing this? Khazan: What do people who didn’t grow up Amish not appreciate enough, in your view? Gingerich: When the Internet is not working, I lose it. I went to Nepal last year for a mission trip and over there, at first it felt great to be able to be away from technology.It took me a long time to be able to type efficiently. Are you saying that more people are leaving the Amish, period, or that the people who do leave have more to talk about when they visit their Amish relatives? Recently, there has been a big division in the church and it has caused a huge uproar with different families. Then I moved away to Stephenville (Texas) for my bachelor’s, and I didn't know anybody in Stephenville, so I was alone all over again, making new friends and getting used to a bigger university., just fall asleep. Why not just work and forget about a college degree? Gingerich: They have more freedom, and sometimes I feel like people don't appreciate the choices they can make. Gingerich: Maybe, because I don’t like playing games. But then toward the end, I was thinking, I just can't wait to go back to the U. where I can be connected to technology again and see what all is happening.I don’t think he wanted to, but I also don’t know why I didn’t make the effort to talk to him on the phone.