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When she voiced her feelings to a family friend, he snuck her the phone number of an ex-Amish woman who would help with her escape. The rapid pace of technology, she says, is forcing the Amish community to grapple with big, existential questions like it never has before. They don’t use it, but I guess there's been so many people leaving and then going back home, so they're becoming more familiar with it. Khazan: What did you think of it when your GED program first said, here's this system of web pages where you can look up anything? I found a picture of him on the Internet and I just thought, I can’t believe he’s my grandfather.A fellow rebellious teenager had given her a cellphone, which she kept hidden in her room until the right moment. Emma’s experience of entering this world of screens suddenly, and all at once, offers a fresh perspective on how our lives have changed since the digital revolution—for the better, and for the worse. We talked about how her views of technology have evolved ever since her escape, and how the Internet helped her unearth a dark family secret. At the time that I left, I just had a little cellphone that I was using as an aid to help me get out. I really don’t know how all that stuff got on the Internet in the first place.Gingerich: If I go to my parent’s place, then my dad has put his foot down, you're going to wear Amish clothes when you come here. Khazan: Last time we talked, one of the things you mentioned really enjoying about your new life was the ability to eat ice cream whenever you want, since the Amish don’t have freezers.

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.

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.

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When Emma Gingerich left her Amish community in Eagleville, Missouri, she was 18 and had an eighth-grade education. The life that awaited most Amish women—one of cooking, cleaning, and child-rearing—never appealed to her.