February 24, 2010 – We live in a world of social conformity and disposition. We have an appetite for the western culture, hankering on what we can’t have; the macho man with multiple sex partners is an envy of fellow men; we are branded sociable if we are found in pubs drowning our favourite tipples and a bite of nyama choma. There is a pressure to play along these lines, lest we are considered social misfits.
One debate that has elicited huge controversy is infidelity. Not wanting to delve much into case studies, there is a social justification of philandering until one is caught. The modern day technology – e.g. mobile phones – have been blamed for spilling the beans. Our personal demeanour to holding as memoirs our communications with clandestine partners can leave a wire trail that has an uncanny way of getting to our legitimate partners, opening up a Pandora’s Box.
Consider Jane (not her real name) who has been flirting with her ex-boyfriend. Conveniently, the current fiancé lives in Nairobi while the old flame works outside the city. The two have been exchanging seductive text messages and Jane has clumsily saved them. Her fiancé has accidentally stumbled into this gallery of information and there is nothing to alibi her. As you can imagine, the relationship is in the verge of break-up.
This article should not be construed to mean I am encouraging infidelity, but if you decide to play, you would rather play by the rules. The ultimate rule is to protect all your private and incriminating communications.
Some high end phones have various ways you can conceal private messages from even the most prying eyes. Sylvia Wamuyu, a Sales Representative at Phone Express explains that all Samsung Phones have a mechanism for blocking people from accessing your SMS.
There is a privacy option that allows phone owners to specify which setting they want to hide and users are prompted for a code when attempting to view the contents in that section. “Samsung as opposed to the other phones that block all phone settings with this code, is more customisable, as in you can block the SMS and maybe Call Logs settings and leave the other settings without privacy.”
I still found this inadequate since I thought blocking all the messages from being viewed can raise the eyebrows of an inquisitive partner leading to insidious confrontations. I got the right solution from a media shy, third year computer geek at University of Nairobi, Marvin*. I agreed to his proposal of using my phone as a guinea pig after assuring me that there are no real phone viruses out there. He has a whole lot of arsenal for this course, but one that caught my attention was ‘call and SMS guard’.
“This one has an SMS manager that enables users to manage the SMS messages in the mobile phone to make the needed messages invisible in the “Inbox” of the phone SMS services,” Marvin offers. A technique aptly named ‘baby listing’ is used to specify the sender whose message will be classified as private.
“For Jane, I would baby list her ex-boyfriend and leave the other messages white listed for others to see. That way, it’s hard for anyone to raise suspicion. Furthermore, I can extend this to call log settings such that the ex-boyfriend’s number does not reflect in the list of people contacted. This totally eliminates those sell out trails.”
Marvin advises that one should take care when installing such software since some phones use unsupported and virus vulnerable operating systems (the behind-the-scene operations engine of a computing system).
“Such software can be bought from the internet, but one should first check system compatibility with a knowledgeable person since the (internet) information might be scanty.”
Technology is fast replacing human consciousness. Few, if any, of these technologies have ensured harmonious social co-existence. In fact, arguably they have led to proliferation of marriage and relationships squabbles. No one seems to have an ingenious solution to stem infidelity. My two cents worth is that trust and respect of privacy will win the brawl. We should find comfort in the fact that “what we don’t know does not hurt, or it does?”
* Name has been modified for fear of retribution from friends.