J’ai confié toute ma vie à mon smartphone… et il est tombé en panne

I entrusted my whole life to my smartphone… and it broke down

Sometimes you only miss one being and everything is depopulated. This adage also applies to smartphones: when mine broke down a few hours before I left on vacation abroad, I realized that entrusting it with most of my personal data had not been the best my initiatives.

Summary

  • When suddenly the drama
  • Second stage, panic
  • Treason or stupidity?
  • My smartphone is knocked out, but I’m OK
  • Time for return, and introspection

Like hundreds of millions of people on earth, I’m addicted to my smartphone. My recent paper on the statistics around the use of mobile terminals allowed me to place myself in the category of people who know it, but who say to themselves that it is like that and that fighting against it is not easy. Especially when part of your daily life is to test the smartphones that come out on the market.

However, it must be admitted that being clearly dependent on a smartphone can lead to disaster when it comes to snap between our fingers. This is what happened to me, just a few hours before flying to my vacation destination. That’s when I realized that not only was I asking too much of my beloved terminal, but, as a bonus, I had become totally dependent on this device.

When suddenly the drama

At 3 a.m., when my smartphone was supposed to wake me up to ring the bells and whistles for departure at the airport, he decides to strike. Fortunately, my companion’s smartphone is there. First observation: my smartphone, an Android terminal that paid nearly 1000 euros a year ago, refuses to turn on. Big panic: the departure is scheduled in less than 30 minutes. Luckily, I have on hand one of the smartphones that I have to test soon: I then anticipate its start-up by installing my Google account in a few minutes and connecting to the most essential services. Fortunately, I have developed some useful reflexes on the subject.

Is it necessary to specify that as a good technophile with a bit of laziness and under cover of a pseudo-ecological practice essentially fueled by the level of ink at zero in the printer, I have decided to print almost no paper documents for the upcoming trip ? Why waste A4 sheets when everything can be consulted, at any time, from my smartphone? Huge mistake.

Second stage, panic

Over the years, my smartphone has become a kind of assistant to which I have delegated a good part of the restrictive tasksthat we can have in a fairly busy daily life. In particular, it remembers all my passwords, contains important documents which are easy to access and it has in its possession most of my contacts. Being a lifelong Android user makes my Google account the center of a lot of my personal data.

My Google account is pretty much the only one I was able to activate during the 20 minutes I had on hand to configure my backup smartphoneand in doing so, I realized that I had made the password so secure that I did not know it by heart. It is saved in a “password vault” which generates passwords, randomly, for most of the services I use. On the other hand, I know by heart the complicated password of this locker.

New problem: to “open” this safe on a new smartphone, you must validate the process with the Google Authenticator. Do you see the problem coming? To change the Smartphone Authenticator, you must scan a QR code present on the old terminal with the new one.. But the old device is out of service. It is the serpent biting its own tail.

I entrusted my whole life to my smartphone… and it broke down

Treason or stupidity?

In the airport terminal where I’m waiting for my plane, between two password recovery attempts (some successful, some not), I feel a little contradictory feelings . On the one hand, I feel betrayed by my device in which I had complete confidence, I swear to myself never to buy a smartphone of this brand, which is unreliable despite the money invested. I’m also having a bit of paranoia. which pushes me to transfer absolutely all emails related to my trip, including the most insignificant, to my companion’s phone, “in case this smartphone fails me too”. There is no reason for this to happen but basically there was also no reason for the previous one, so why?

But deep down, I am especially a little ashamed to have relied entirely on a mobile device to keep essential data for my daily life, and not to have been able to seriously consider that a situation of this kind could occur. By the way, I also realize that certain tools, intended to protect the owner of a smartphone, can also turn against himwhen potential failures are never considered: the case of the Authenticator is glaring.

My smartphone is knocked out, but I’m OK

Quickly realizing that I had no real control over the loss of access to certain services, I ended up dropping the prospect of reinstalling everything after a few hours. Disconnecting during my flight allowed me to make a transition and tell myself that I will solve the problematic points when I return from vacation.

I had to occasionally find a way to resolve certain constraints along the way: GPS routes deleted from my phone’s history (necessarily), the need to recreate my vaccination pass in TousAntiCovidthe absence of certain unregistered telephone contacts in my personal directory… each time, I could not help but tell myself thatit would have been relatively easy to avoid this with a little more preparation, less dependent on my smartphone. Fortunately, my companion had some important items in his possession, which allowed us to enjoy our vacation without wondering how to retrieve this or that information all day long.

I also relativized by telling myself that the situation could have been much worse if my smartphone had decided to break down during my trip . I didn’t have a computer or tablet with me, and I wouldn’t have been able to log into essential services from someone else’s device because I didn’t know some of my credentials by heart.

I entrusted my whole life to my smartphone… and it broke down

Time for return, and introspection

When I got back, the situation was miraculously sorted out when my smartphone, which couldn’t be turned back on before I left, accepted to activate in Recovery mode. However, suspicious, I decided to copy all of its content to another device, to have a complete backup “just in case”.

But that was not my only approach. I decided to detach myself from my smartphone for certain tasks and to reclaim certain important information, never to find myself in such a situation again. I realized that being addicted to your smartphone is one thing, but delegating everything to it is another: you can use your mobile terminal intensively on a daily basis without giving it any useful information to lighten your load. spirit.

So I have :

  • Changed some essential passwords in my daily lifeto replace them with others, associated with mnemonic devices to remember them effectively.
  • Makes a copy of my Authenticator on two devices which I can turn on again to dispose of it if necessary: ​​you should know that it is impossible to take a screenshot of the QR code generated by the Google Authenticator, but that it is, on the other hand, possible to duplicate it on multiple devices.
  • Rounds up all apps that require passwords and other means of identification by ensuring that it was possible to easily regain access to them by a device other than my usual telephone. In some cases this was not possible. I am still working on looking for alternatives.
  • Bought ink for my printer. Sometimes it is better to get out of digital to be secure. It’s not a revolution, but let’s bet it’s at least the beginning of a certain emancipation.

Inevitably, when the next vacation is in sight, I’ll think back to this messwhich made me wonder about the weird relationship I have with the little touchscreen computer that’s never far from me, and it’s clear that I’ll see things differently. I still hope that this time, my smartphone will not decide to take a vacation without me.


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