Ples Mahn
We've heard the rhetoric – now plan & execute

A modern tale of technology, love & flawed choices

Christina Manu
Christina Manu

| An entry in the Crocodile Prize

PORT MORESBY - The time on the device read 2:45am as I shoved it feebly aside and tossed restlessly around for the hundredth time.

I forced my reluctant eyelids to shut, shielding my eyeballs from the walls that seem to stare back at me in deadly silence but overhearing my thoughts.

Today is the day of the court hearing. The fate of seven years of marriage lies in the hands of a stranger with a black robe and wooden hammer seated behind a tall desk.

Is it worth it? Did it have to go this far? Well, enough had been enough.

On top of all the challenges of life, of being his wife, of mothering his children, of being a good in-law to his family and of supporting him to manage a home, I was forced into the extra pressure of fighting for my rightful place. But why?

Some say that, unlike in the past, modern technology was to blame. Yes, it is a new era, the advances of modern science racing around the globe like wildfire in the wind.

But, really, should we blame a lifeless, insensate, mute, manufactured device for our marital affairs, sexually transmitted disease, neglect and suffering? The answer is no. Our power of choice and the actions we take determine how we live.

Some say all the technological advancement is a blessing; a few say it’s a curse; but really, if you look at it carefully, it all depends on how one chooses to define and use it.

It’s knowledge and the use we make of it that is power. Power to do good or evil, to destroy or create, to hide or make known, to move forward with the rest of the world….

We have benefited hugely and positively from the wave of change that bears us forward but we must also admit that the abuse of smart technologies is also fuelling to the destruction of many homes in our nation and contributing to the many issues faced by society.

Secret lives are created and lived on the internet through smart phones and computers. A married man or woman with a faithful partner and beautiful children is given the ability to pose as a single person using this technology, fuelling extra marital relationships and the problems that come with it.

The innocent always suffer the worst.

Social media assists molesting predators to lure minors from the safety of their homes, ending in cyber bullying, pornography, STDs, unwanted pregnancies or even rape.

With devices glued to their hands and faces, some have forgotten how to live life with their loved ones, slipping away from reality into a world of fantasy and isolation.

Without discipline or self-control some have allowed a gadget to outsmart their intellect and steal their time and their lives.

Decades ago the technologies did not exist to evoke such behaviour. Taking a partner, especially a woman, into a man’s home was based entirely on reasons that served the community well - like keeping peace between tribes or maintaining the wealth and prestige of ones clan.

Women did not fight over a man as they do today. Women were valued and prized back then as they contributed hugely in a community and were paid huge amounts of bride price to keep.

But today, with the use of technology, married men easily have affairs with women they don’t intend to keep, encouraging prostitution in the process, fuelling STDs, domestic violence, child abuse and everywhere adding to broken homes.

As for me, my battle has come this far, seven years of what seemed like wasted time and effort, all the things I could have done without a man standing in between, all the options I could have explored and the opportunities I brushed aside to prioritise a life that has now come to an edge.

I could drown and die of regret and depression every night, but the two beautiful children I gained in this journey have given me a reason to wake up every morning and push on.

Life has been a battlefield. All the fights that left me defeated and miserable, all the heated exchanges between me and the other women on social media, nothing ever seemed to end. And the blame game and justifications for all his doings.

A new surge of anger erupts from somewhere deep within as I recall the smart phone that never left the palm of his hand and stole all his time, attention and finally his love for me.

The late nights he spent on the other side of the room, his face reflecting the hateful blue glow of the device, him smiling, giggling, flirting with women from a social media site.

And as time went by, the empty bed, the cold untouched dinner from last night ending up as trash, the lies and tales to cover his absence, and the loneliness I get swallowed up in, even in his presence.

I search within, expecting to feel maybe only a slight flicker of that emotion that was responsible for the bonding of two people in the first place. To my dismay, it was all still there, as warm and beautifully pure as it was. It was still there.

I still love him painfully and dearly as I did the first time I loved him. Tears well up my eyes as I gulp down a lump forming in my throat. Those tender first dates, the sweet promises, the thrilling journey into parenthood, the contented laughter, the joyful tears, the fun of those happier times.

All was well until we allowed something else into our life and gave it the reins of control.

And yes, I shattered one smart phone after another when they started to pose as a threat to our relationship, but he would buy another, and another after beating me up over the previous one. Pushing me further and further away from him.

He would fall asleep either with his fingers tightly wrapped around the device or with it tucked under his pillow. He was addicted to it. Whatever he was protecting and spending time with had replaced what we had.

If only we had realised soon enough and were strong enough to fight this, maybe we could have picked up the good pieces, thrown away the bad and tried again.

Or if life was written in pencil, I would gladly use the eraser to delete all that was bad, leaving the good. Then rewrite our story even better.

Or if maybe we existed in the time of our grandparents, this marriage would see us through to our grey and golden age.

And maybe if we both thought the same, we wouldn’t have any problems.

However, one thing I am sure of is that, even if it is too late for me, it isn’t too late for my children to learn and understand the true meaning of life and the values that hold something as sacred as marriage together.

It isn’t too late for them and their generation to be guided by our mistakes.

Time and experience teaches valuable lessons in life and as long as I still breathe I will make sure I impart what should have been to my children.

Nothing of this world must dominate and ruin their lives in any way.

The power of choice each one has must always be used for the good of oneself and those around us.


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Olivier Darina

Beautifully written my darling sister. Somehow I got teary when reading through.

There is a saying that goes "in order to progress in life we have to get rid of toxic people". You're beautiful and wonderfully made.

It's true the power of choice is in our own hands and we make decisions either to break or build our lives.

God has a plan for you, Christina ♥️

Mathias Kin

It was not to end this way. Anyhow be strong. This chapter just ended will bring out that strong Olmi in you. You are destined for greatness.

Great piece of writing too.

Wari nasemiyo!

Bella Wagame

Beautiful piece written there my beautiful friend. Indeed its a matter of choice. How you chose to use the technology will define its purpose in your life.

But again it goes back to an individual and the roles and responsibilities you play in a relationship to keep it going.

Zuleika Winfrey

When two people in a relationship have very different values and standards, they will make little progress as a team with personal or professional goals because they are so incompatible. The bulk of their time together will be spent on unnecessary quarrels and fighting.

For example, 'No tech times' in the home must be clearly defined and set for family meals, family meetings, homework times, prayer times, etc. This arrangement can only be achieved successfully if both partners in a relationship hold the same value to what is considered important in a family unit.

The advent of technology is no excuse for cyber infidelity or family neglect. Personal choices, whether in the physical environment or cyberspace, have consequences. Some consequences may affect us for a few minutes, while others may change our lives forever.

This week, I gave a lecture on 'Social Media Dangers and Risks' (CA320 unit Social Media and Mobile Phone Communication) to my Year 3 Communication Arts students at DWU.

I could not stress enough to the digital natives to stop, think and act when online with Web 2.0 tools. Yes, the world is literally at our fingertips....and so are our personal choices.

Corney Korokan Alone

Good recount of life's journey.
Yes. Life is about personal choices.
Choices of yes(s)es and no's.

Choices about today's pleasure and tomorrow's pain or pleasure.
Choices about listening, and taking heed to the constant, seemingly inconvenient and annoying rumblings of the grey haired characters at home.

That choice of free-will builds and bakaraps.

Raymond Sigimet

There's always the bad, the good and the outright ugly in life and in whatever inventions or progress that come with it.

I grew up being reminded to be mindful of two things that could affect how my life turns out to be. They were drugs and alcohol. After a few years, pre-marital sex was added to the list.

And now when I'm heading to my forties, mobile phone has made the list of four things that are causing and creating havoc in the family unit and community level.

With the current trend, I'd say the introduction and advent of smart mobile phones into our society and the "new" possibilities and realities that come with this technology has created multiple social and relationship problems.

I can see that these problems mainly affect the family unit and interpersonal relationships. It's like a sore that is developing to become an ulcer and is slowly eating into the bone(s) of our society.

I believe the young people of present times (who will eventually grow up to become adults) are more prone to be influenced or affected by these "problems" associated with the use or abuse of mobile phones.

Unlike adults who have a conscious choice, children do not necessarily do, even if they think they do.

Sir Bob Dadae, the Governor-General of Papua New Guinea had this to say recently and placed the responsibility back on parents, to be conscious of what is happening, in a news report from The National newspaper dated Thursday, September 19, 2019.

"Parents, how we teach our children at our homes will determine the future of our society. Children growing up in towns and cities today are exposed to rapid changes in communication and access to information through mobile phones, internet and TV. These have presented new challenges for parents to instill in their children the virtues of respect and obedience."

Fr Philip Gibbs

A powerful, sad, but beautifully written piece. that I will share in the hope that it may help others consider the place of phones in their lives. Thank you Christina.

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