Owen, one of my old friends, has been dumped twice because of using text messages, or SMS’s, as many call them.
The latest scenario was when his latest girlfriend, Brenda, received one of his stray messages, meant for another secret lover.
This was after Ronnie’s return from upcountry, from an old friend’s matrimony, where he had met a tempting lady, taken a lot of wine, and ended up cheating on Brenda.
When he returned home, he wrote a regret text to his “cheat-mate” but mistakenly sent it to Brenda. Their relationship ended that day. Related stories, of suspicious partners stalking their lovers’ phones, have been told. Some discover strange texts that may suggest, ongoing secret relationships.
Esther Mutoni, a crafts entrepreneur in Kigali, said she once had a boyfriend who deleted all sent items, saved messages and received texts from his inbox. Unfortunately he never cared about the “delivery alert” messages.
“When he started changing his attitude, for the first time, I decided to check his messages. I was shocked at reading his delivery alert texts as they clearly showed that he was a cheat.”
With the latest controversial technology of phone hacking, which was revealed after the infamous scandal of ‘News International’, one can no longer trust SMS’s for sending well-guarded secrets.
In the scandal, ‘unethical’ journalists reportedly accessed phone conversations and texts of superstars, government officials, the British Royal Family et cetera, to get their news.
It is also very difficult to be sure whether your SMS has been delivered to the intended recipient, or not. Careful phone users always follow a text, with a phone call to affirm delivery.
Belinda Umutoni did not confirm delivery of her SMS to her boss when she was an employee of a local telecommunication company’s call centre and ended up losing her job
“I sent a message to my supervisor telling him that I would not be able to show up that day,” she said. “However, the next day when I was handed a suspension letter for not reporting my absence- my supervisor claimed on all grounds that he hadn’t received my texts and I could not disprove him.”
Her employer’s policies might have been more than strict, but Umutoni ought to blame herself as well for trusting an SMS for such a big issue.
Some telecom companies have become insensitive to their users needs. They tend to bombard the network with SMSs and don’t care about exposing them to anxiety.
“I am pissed off when I rush to see which girl has texted me, only to an MTN promotion SMS, MTN announcements, MTN… arrrrgghhee!” exclaims Jules Muhire, a Kigali Independent University (ULK) student.
Muhire said: “Sometimes Police alert messages also scare the hell out me, though they are very good for our information. I get nervous that maybe I did something wrong, until I finish reading the text.”
The sender of an SMS cannot also easily express themselves because SMSs have to be brief, unlike phone calls or emails.
Though they are sometimes appropriate for clarifying spellings of names, sending business cards, and communicating where phone calls can’t be used, the downside of stray SMSs should be taken seriously, especially now that they can land their senders or receivers into trouble.