I chanced upon a tweet from Thenjiwe Mthembu that touched on a subject I find interesting and has over the years caused some robust debates.
She tweeted @_ThenjiweM “Nisibona siHappy nje we don’t check our partners phone, asifuni nokwazi ipassword!” Loosely translated, it goes “The reason we are this happy is because we don’t check our partners’ phone, we don’t even want to know their password!”
It really touched a raw nerve with many of her followers and other Twitterland citizens. The responses seemed to be divided right down the middle between those who agreed with her and those who thought she was crazy to still espouse such “warped” thoughts in this day and age.
One obvious trend was that it was mostly men who agreed with her. Although a sprinkling of women felt the same way.
Nisibona siHappy nje we don’t check our partners phone , asifuni nokwazi ipassword!— Thenjiwe Mthembu (@_ThenjiweM) March 18, 2019
But most members of the fairer sex disagreed with her and actually confessed to going through their partner’s gadgets regularly.
Among the women who sided with her was Khaya’s mom @maluvy who tweeted: “Ha ke batle nex ya phone ya motho. I learnt the hard way.” The first part translates to “I don’t want anything to do with somebody’s phone”. And @Tuni_IAM wrote: “I don’t even know if it has a password or not ... Angfuni nokwazi.” The last part means, “I don’t even want to know.”
But Energy @sibajackpama said: “If men were honest people, I would still be like this but they are not. I dated an ex for a year and I trusted him. I asked to send an SMS on his phone and I saw a text conversation with some girl since, since. Ever since then, I always check. I can’t waste my time again.”
After I responded, “And how does checking his phone change him and make him honest?” she hit back: “It lets me know I can end things instead of wasting my time. Some men have wives, girlfriends. A little flirting is okay but sometimes it’s bad. It’sfor my safety, what if he makes me sick or brings a baby.”
And then the guys jumped into the conversation and some, as youngsters say, didn’t have any “filters”.
Muzi Mgenge @nazomagenge, using Mthembu’s clan name, said: “Uyazisiza Mvelase. Mina if we’re dating and you go through my phone without my permission and you find something there, don’t even waste your time trying to confront me about whatever you found ngoba kuyobe isukile buka.”
My response to Mthembu, “You will be Happy for a loooooooong time and live loooooooong”, was based on my views on the subject.
Since the introduction of this small device called a cellphone that has revolutionised life more than many discoveries before it, I have always held the view that a person’s cellphone is a private tool for their private and personal use. It is the other party’s choice whether they share what is said or written in their cellphone conversations.
The foundation of any interpersonal relationship must always be trust, cellphone or none. If there is no trust from the onset, that relationship is doomed.
I’ve overheard people, mostly girlfriends, say that they do not lose an opportunity to go through their boyfriend’s phone or ransack their places should the poor sod happen to be away at that particular time.
“I want to know where I stand,” they argue. But I say this is a very serious invasion of privacy. Cheating is as old as the mountains. It existed long before the introduction of cellphones and social media, which have brought cheating into sharper focus because of how easy it has become to communicate – even with strangers.
For me there are two choices, both devilish, and you have to choose between them. You can snoop around your partner’s phone hoping to find something incriminating or you can choose blissful ignorance and adhere to the school of thought that what you don’t know won’t hurt you. Both choices, like anything in life, have their advantages and disadvantages.
If you choose the first, you will hope and pray that you do not find anything that will make you regret making your partner’s phone your business. Given that it is becoming more and more obvious that most people cheat, the chances are that if you go through somebody’s phone, you are more likely to find some incriminating information.
So ask yourself if you are prepared to change partners at the drop of a hat for the rest of your life. If that makes you happy and gives you peace of mind, continue snooping but know that you are doing it at your own risk and the chances of remaining without a partner for the rest of your life are great. It is also not a given these days that people need partners.
More and more people are doing just fine by themselves without being involved with anyone.
The choice is yours.
You can either live in complete oblivion and hope to live peacefully for the rest of your life or you can continue to snoop around at your own risk.
- Mseleku is City Press' sports editor. Follow him on Twitter.