Our phones can be like cartoon captions above our heads, revealing all our innermost thoughts, desires and guilty actions. Photo: Simone de Peak
When Mercury is in retrograde, your world is liable to be turned upside down with disasters looming at any moment. It is not a time to make decisions. Communications are particularly vulnerable. In Britain, former News Ltd senior executive Andy Coulson was convicted of conspiracy to intercept phone messages of celebrities and nobodies.
Mercury is slippery and unforgiving. A dear friend, a former spy, forgot all his former training recently and went to sleep at his girlfriend's, leaving his phone at the bedside table without his usual encrypted code and fingerprint access-only app in place. While he snored the deep sleep of the ignorant, his girlfriend learnt of dark matters hidden in the memory cards of his phone. A whole lifetime of emails, texts, photos and secrets can be accessed by a busy beaver with a suspicious mind. My friend had enjoyed consecutive lovers that overlapped like pancakes on a plate, bringing a respite to his usual melancholy desperation, but the night-time intruder on fingertips walked through his phone and all his secret and not so secret lovers spilt out of his screen to her horror.
Our sleeping spy risked being out-spied by an amateur when he mistook amour for armour. Once she started, she could not stop. She binged on the seven levels of intimacy. She devoured his text messages in one bite, revealing last night's lover, worked her way up his personal emails until she found a constant correspondent, but it was the naked photos from his last alleged girlfriend date-stamped two days ago that really stuck in her throat. She sent that to her own phone before whizzing through his Tinder matches with barely legals, WhatsApp, Instagram and finishing with Facebook before screaming blue murder, waking up the dreamer to this fresh hell.
Our phones can be like cartoon captions above our heads, revealing all our innermost thoughts, desires and guilty actions. It was a long night of accusations, explanations and declarations. I advised him the next day that it was technically a criminal offence to view another person's password-protected files even if you share a computer. His girlfriend insisted that hacking was a lover's right, especially if her suspicions were confirmed by her snooping. Moral codes do not apply to phone codes. In love, the rules are often reversed. There is a presumption of guilt as we are human and the phone is an instrument of desire. At the press of a button we can inform ourselves of any potential lover in the area on Tinder, search the internet for future lovers, stalk old lovers on Facebook and leave a bloody trail of breadcrumbs and clues that energetic parties can follow in a New York second.
Imagine if our parents left their careless adulterous love letters on the family couch for all to read. These days, the children couldn't decipher their parents' cursive handwriting, it would be like hieroglyphics to them. The modern family unit needs immense firewalls to survive. If, while we sleep, our partners can help themselves to our digital lives, we would never sleep. I doubt anyone can put up their hand up to deny infidelity in thought, word or pixelated action on our phones. My years of listening to police-intercepted phone calls reveal that we communicate according to our deep, implanted DNA patterns even when we try to disguise it. It's surprising that any marriage or relationship survives unless it is built on an open plan. We dream of a perfect soul mate with whom we can share all intimate secrets. However, the reality is that, even in their presence, our minds express treacherous thoughts that dare not express themselves in speech, lest there be bloodshed. It is human to hate the ones we love. It comes with the territory, like skin with its sensitivity to exposure.
Undisciplined, we can gorge ourselves on the details of our lovers' lives, no matter how bitter they are to swallow. As a society, we delight in the dirty details of other people's lives. We treat gossip as a currency to be bartered, traded like any other commodity. News Ltd built a fortune on this insatiable appetite for the daily destiny and disasters of celebrities and royals. It is not without irony that the most the most followed trial in recent history involved the ex-employees of News who are now celebrities in their own right. They should expect that they themselves will be hacked in the future by power-hungry journos feeding the monster.