My Phone Died. It Felt Like Part of Me Did Also.

in #technology4 years ago (edited)

Humanity today is coming to grips with this reality:

Human + Technology = Human

We are our technology.

It made us.

One of my favorite explorations of this idea comes from a TED Talk by Suzana Herculano-Houzel:

Summary: the invention of fire and the cooking it brings allowed our species to pre-digest food and support a higher calorie-per-neuron count which led to our advanced brains and us surpassing not only our primate brothers and sisters, but every other species on the planet. The technology of fire made us human.

Many are afraid of technology, and rightfully so, but I'll also offer they may be ignorant of the role it has played in our existence as it is today. Personally, I've been drinking the transhumanist Kool Aid lately. I try to embrace what is and what is most likely to be.

So on Friday morning, when I turned on my phone and saw a couple flashes of the Apple logo and then nothing... I knew part of what makes me who I am had died. I'm on my phone a lot. My phone is an extension of me, just as the glasses I use when on my computer or the food I enjoy, sourced around the world via technological advancements.

Many are unwilling to admit this for some reason or another. Maybe it's shame. Maybe it's fear. I recognize my phone as an extension of me. This black useless brick, this Monolith, lies dormant like a lost appendage.


I knew its day was coming. It was locking up on me more and more, hinting at a future hardware death.

The first thing I did that day was buy a new one. I spent some time shopping around, looking at refurbished options, same day delivery promises, and even the completely new-to-me Android world. I settled for what I know because I didn't want to be without my appendage for long. I went new because the battery is the first thing to go (I already replaced the battery on my Monolith). I was there at the mall when the doors of the Apple store opened. I was not alone. Many were also in line, waiting to expand their humanity. As always, I didn't leave the store until the phone was tucked safely into an Otter Box. I should be more gentle with my phones, but again, I try to face reality.

I ended up going with an iPhone 6S. It's a nice upgrade from my iPhone 5 which was also a major upgrade to my iPhone 3. Yes, planned obsolescence is a bitch, and paying this much for a "phone" is quite ridiculous (I won't tell you how much I paid, it's insane). But I paid it and moved on.

I had a slight freak out when I got home, plugged in in my new phone to restore from backup, and saw this:

What do you mean, I can't restore my arm? It's my arm!

That's kind of how I felt. Many Google searches later on more sites than I can count, I finally found a potential option that didn't include just "deleting the corrupted backup." I updated the iOS on the phone and after that, it accepted the backup.

Part of my humanity was restored.

But not all of it.

Many of my Google Authenticator entries were gone. After much searching, I was quite disturbed to learn this on a blog post:

Update 2015-12-07: As pointed out in the comments, it looks like newer versions of Google Authenticator store keys in a way that can’t be retrieved from iOS Backups (only restored to the same device). This only affects new keys added to the app - older keys are still able to be retrieved.

And that's what I experienced. Really old entries were still there. Newer ones were not. It reminded me (which is why I'm writing this post to remind you), if available:

Always store the secure key to your 2FA logins!

Some sites (AWS included) sadly don't offer the key and you just have to reconfigure everything through their support team. Some sites do, and I hadn't been paying attention enough to write down the codes in my password manager. One such site was my @bittrex account, and I wanted to give them a shout out here.

Unlike @poloniex which took almost two months to fix my botched deposit of 3,000 STEEM, @bittrex was on top of it. They replied to my support ticket almost immediately with a list of things I needed to do in order to disable 2FA on my account to log in again. That included (among other things) a picture of myself holding my ID and a hand-written note with today's date mentioning Bittrex.

Amazingly, I had access to my account the very next day.

I posted about my phone death on Facebook and was surprised to see how tribal the responses were. It seemed to reinforce the personal connectedness we have with our digital devices. Google Pixel, Droid, iPhone 6, iPhone 7, and more. My friends started disagreeing with each other on why one is better than the other and how they will "never go back." There was also some good information about Authy which, unlike Google Authenticator, allows you to back up all your two factor authentication codes (which may lead to vulnerabilities like the one discovered in 2015).

The point of this story?

  • Make sure your backups are not corrupted and/or you know how to properly restore them on a new device.
  • Always use two-factor authentication, even if you have to jump through some hoops to get up and running again. The risk without it is too high. Always secure the secret key for your 2FA accounts so you can reconfigure it later as needed.
  • The technology you use throughout the day has become part of who you are. Don't deny it, just adjust accordingly.
  • Take frequent backups of the devices you use most.

Thankfully my backup was only about a month old. I lost some contacts, but pretty regularly sync my photos, so I don't think I lost anything important there. It's a little awkward responding to texts with, "Um, sorry, who is this?" but such is life with a new phone.

It's a little scary to be defined by something so out of my control. But it sure is nice to say, "Hey Siri, what's the weather like today?"

Have you ever lost a phone or computer unexpectedly? Did it change the way you think about it? Do you back things up more frequently now?

Do you think technology makes us who we are?

On a related note, if you don't have an external device you regularly back up your computer to, get one. Do it.

Luke Stokes is a father, husband, business owner, programmer, and voluntaryist who wants to help create a world we all want to live in. Visit

I'm a Witness! Please vote for @lukestokes.mhth


It should be a surprise to no one that the mind evolves with new technologies. After all, whenever we wrap our head around new concepts, our brain is constantly rewired by the effort itself that is put into learning a new technology.

Now, the tools in general that humans growing up today needs to learn are very different indeed to those that their ancestor's minds were exposed to. So thus, the rewiring will not be the same, which again will result in slightly different minds with sightly different capabilities and perceptions.

So it will not be humans, as we know them today, who will explore the stars. It will probably be someone quite like us, but still significantly different from us, simply because of the different technologies that will have "made them" as you say.

It's a fascinating subject, and one that is increasingly relevant in an age dominated by exponential technologies. WIll our minds grow at the same pace? I wonder.

Upvoted and Followed! Happy that there are others who share an interest in the topic :)

Thank you and great comment.

I think the future (especially when it comes to traveling the stars) will be synthetic... or, more accurately, the line between synthetic and biological will be so blurred we won't know the difference. Data stored in DNA, cyber brain implants... it's going to get interesting.

And thank you for writing and sharing the article!
I absolutely agree with you. I once had the pleasure of asking Pete Worden, then Director of NASA Ames Research Center, what he thought would happen first: That we would have the technologies required to take humanity in its current state to settle space, or that we would have the biotech-knowledge necessary to alter our bodies as to allow for settlements and long term space travel without the need for such technologies. (Mostly a question of altering DNA to prohibit bone-loss and lessen the vulnerability to radiation). His reply at the time was: "Answering questions like those tend to get me into trouble". (Practically confirming that he believed the latter).

Luckily though, I got to meet him again at the Spaceport Norway conference I helped build this year. As he is now the chairman of Breakthrough Starshot an initiative funded by Yuri Milner, with the support of Stephen Hawking and Mike Zuckerberg, to pursue innovation-projects that are simply too futuristic to make sense as a short-term investment, but with the aim of advancing the technologies and sciences necessary to answer "the big questions".

It is cool to see that NASA Ames, the NASA centre he used to run, now do look seriously at the potential of working with the DNA of future settlers on other planets and sending instructions of changes to the DNA-code necessary for astronauts to adapt to unexpected hazards via radio-communication.

Anyways, I hope to write a longer piece on this at one point for my steemit blog which does focus on sharing both the excitement I have for these developments and what I get to work with in the space sector myself. Still quite new to the platform, so great to come across others who find this stuff fascinating.

Very cool! Followed.

Our brains are simply an interface device that allow our sentience to interact with the physical world. Our sentience can map to anything given time.

Have you ever played video games? First few minutes or hours are spent learning the interface. At first, you think "push this button right to go right." But eventually, your brain maps to the interface, and then your sentience can stop thinking about how to go right and starts thinking about when and why to go right. That's when you really start playing the game.

We have passed the point of gadgets because our brains are now accustomed to being mapped to the internet. Most of us are no longer intrigued by the externals of a device much. What we want is for our gadgets to become invisible. The less we have to think about the interaction, the more we can just focus on what we want to get done in there, in electronic space. Thus for us, the best technology is the technology that we don't even think about or see because it does its job so well that we don't even have to notice it.

Louis Sullivan: "Form follows Function." That's where we are headed.

Very well said. Ready Player One is in our future.

Probably so! Looking forward to the movie.

Soon we'll be writing posts with our minds, no need to type at all with our fingers. Facebook already working on it, now we just wait.

I think a lot of people (if not everyone) could relate to this, man. Our reliance on technology and its ubiquity certainly has its fair share of advantages and disadvantages. I like how you hearkened back to our primitive ancestors, and I do agree that the invention of fire could be likened to adoption of new technology.

Many are afraid, but that's only due to lack of understanding. Technology provides the next step in evolution, where we create the building blocks to the future ourselves. The biological training wheels are off, and now humanity is responsible for what path we would take.

I like how a story about losing your phone lead to a deep ideological discussion. Sorry to hear about your old iPhone, but I'm still going to urge you to reconsider Android, like I did a year or so back. Since your witness is More Human Than Human, and the Android Nexus series was inspired by the same book, both things are connected. It's a sign, Luke :D

Hahah. I'll reconsider at some point in the future, but for now I'm glad to be back up and running again quickly with my arm reattached. :)

One of the things I love most about Steemit and writing lately is I'm able to take my everyday experiences and talk about them how I think about them. People here don't judge me as being "too serious." Instead, I get to have fun discussions about interesting ideas. I love this place. :)

Serious for others seems to be the norm here, so you fit right in :) I'm so happy that you're enjoying your time here, man!

I have a dozen mini panic attacks throughout the day when I think I've lost or misplaced my phone. Dependant. Good advice to make sure u got your stuff backed up. Cheers

Panic attacks are no fun, but yeah, many are right there with you. Our technology becomes us.


Forcing people to be generous isn't humanitarian, effective, compassionate or moral. I loved your post and your views on all the spamming going on around here, I saw you get a lot of "nice" offers from trolls:P

So you have my vote for Witness! Btw I am very careful with these kinda vots, but I feel I made the right call!



Thank you, that is greatly appreciated. :)

No problem Sir!

More people like you would make this world a better place.

I totally understand the pain when technology dies, especially when you use it so much! Heck I watched my old computer literally melt and seeing the horror or years worth of work gone (still don't have enough to replace it but that's a different story). however on the flip side during my recent 3.5 week long walkabout when I was totally tech free, I can say that I have never felt so at peace and connected to the world! Maybe this is the universe telling you you need a break (but only if you really need one, because I need my weekly fix of your blog hehe). I hope it works itself out @lukestokes

Oh man, so sorry to hear that. When you say melt, I think of when I melted 100 bitcoin. A walkabout sounds like a good idea. I should probably do more of that. :)

I love technology, and I'm making peace with how it makes me who I am.

I backup everything on my external sds and hardrive, talking about phones, just last night i was browsing through google's account history through google now app and realized they have access to all data within the app, it even records how many times i accessed spotify, blockfolio, yelp, twitter, fb. This is really creepy!

You expected privacy? Heheh... Don't forget, you are the product.

That may be bad, or it may be something else.

Your story reminds me a lot of my relationship with my decade-old laptop (affectionately called 'my first wife' and pictured here).

It is a relationship of dependency. There is no other (computer) in my life right now - and I am seeing my dependency upon her/it becoming all the more critical over these next few months. :c)

My point is that I understand the anxiety of losing everything - and you well-describe your harrowing experience with the loss of your phone. It brings me to dwell upon fall-back plans once more - and your supporting points in this regard are simply spot-on - as reflective of the rest of your content (thanks).

I do hope and trust that time will have you sorting out any loose ends remaining.

Things are going well so far. Be sure to back up that machine!

So funny seeing this post this is what has happened to me. Tried to restore an old iPhone backup. Well it seemed to mess up my google authenticator and many other apps just erasing the old data. Didn't just hurt google authenticator but many other things.

Learned to backup regularly after this.

That's a lesson well learned, then. I'm wondering what apps may still be funked up a bit. I had to reconfigure my mail, but other than that, so far, things mostly seem to be working.

some people are just better writers than others : ) i give you that

Apple knows this. They already got you with planned obsolesce and you paid! They will also get you to monthly pay iCloud storage for automatic backup because you got bad experience with your corrupted iTunes data...
Do you have a need for this technology or did Apple created this need for you?

I've not used iCloud much at all. Too many stories of it being hacked. But yes, they did get me. If I switch phones and move to a new tech stack, I'll want it to be on my terms. So far, after my third phone with them, I've still been quite happy with the overall performance. Until they mess that up, I won't have much reason to move.

i know what you went through. I lost my phone 3 weeks ago and used it everyday. Though i'm not a phone man, i'm an internet addict so i know the deal.

Luckily i was all prepared for that situation with all my backups!
When working in media, i always make sure to have backups with throughly orden.

Cheers from south america!

Glad to hear you had good backups! Well done.

Whoooah 3000 STEEM, Ive always been weary of Poloniex you know, however I love how they have their platform setup, its laid out in a nice fashion.
Great read, but I cant support your phone decision. I am a full on Android guy now :D Back up is iportant but its sometimes such a chore, I know I have alot of stuff that I need to get on and start doing that! Maybe this will be my motivation?
Thanks @lukestokes

I hope to never use Poloniex again. It may be nice and have good volume, but they treat their customers terribly. That's no way to run a business.

Android vs. Apple... the tribalism rages on. heheh.

Back it up. Always back it up.

yes sir!!! what are your thoughts in some of the other exchanges? personally ive only used Bittrex, Poloniex, Kraken, Bluetrade and cryptopia.

Well, I mentioned Bittrex here. Nothing but good experiences with them so far. I have an account on Kraken, but haven't used it yet. I plan to do a video about that in the future. Bitfinex is also another one which seems solid and recovered well from a hack years ago.

aaa yeah. see im still so new to all of this, and what i did when i started was tried to get involved with all these exchanges right off the bat so I didnt have wait times down the road when a coin comes out where i have to migrate to another exchange for. i have Binfinex aswell so maybe once the market 'levels' from last weeks events, ill play a little more :)

Technology is a useful servant but a dangerous master. :-)

Indeed. But then... if technology and humanity become synonymous, we could just as easily say anyone or anything makes a dangerous master. Voluntaryism for me. :)

Neah never too dependant on technology.. So much love to offer in REAL world :-)

Ah, but here I believe you're making a disconnect. The "real" world includes technology. It's a product of it. The sooner we recognize this reality, the sooner we can adapt to survive it.

Just got back from voting for u. Good luck bro!

My K860 "dieded" on me too. I have there my 2FAs and unfortunately I can't retrieve it because I was a dumb ass not saving the keys on a piece of paper or another software. Lesson learned.

Sorry to hear that. Be sure to get yourself a password manager like 1Password. I use that every day throughout the day.

I will definitely take note and use 1Password moving forward, thank you :)

I don't use a phone at all and trust me, I know this makes me weird. I was weird in California and I'm really weird in SE Asia. I can often be the only one in a whole subway car without a phone going.

Many people over here skipped computers entirely and only have phones for the internet. They do not know how to use a computer at all, but they are very good on the phone.

My main reasons for not having one are, I can't see them with my old eyes, I can't carry them with my arthritic hands, and I'm really bad in real time. I have trouble talking on them at all. This was true when phones were only attached to your house. I've just never been good with them.

The reason I'm commenting is to tell you that today and yesterday I have seen tons of posts in my fb groups about people who have an apple phone that died. People are crying in my anxiety groups and freaking out in my blogging and social media groups etc.

I'm thinking this is some kind of coordination. Unlike you, most people posting did not get the trouble fixed. Now I will pay more attention to those posts. I'm glad it worked out for you.

Crying with anxiety over a phone? Wow.

And I thought maybe I was taking my analogy a bit too far. It really has become a part of us.

Don't worry, you're no less human without it. Thanks for commenting. :)

People in anxiety groups get upset easily. Lost photos and texts is a big one. I'm in them as an optimistic observer and it's quite a ride.

I have a phone sort of - I just ask the random person next to me for help. It works well in Bangkok - not so easy in California but after a few tries, help is there :)

It is like going back to 1995, except there are no phone booths. I love the digital life but sometimes being off the grid is a refreshing thing. I do feel on the broken device though.

My new 6s is working nicely. :)

Smartphone addiction is a very big thing, but noone wants to talk about it, since we are all addicts :)

But I can stop at any time.

Surely I can.

I'd just, you know, put it down, and...

Ah, who am I kidding. I might as well put down my arm. :)

Hahaha.. I dont know why but this has just shown up in my feed... 14 days late? But I loved it and have no sympathy for you! I once spent an hour close to a nervous breakdown chasing one of my goats round a 10 acre field. She had my arm extension in her mouth, and every few minutes she stopped and waited for me to almost catch up before tossing it enticingly down, and then picking it back up before running off again. Little survives goat games. And that included my precious.... I never tried to re-assemble the bits and recover any info, nor did I ever find the sim card. It almost destroys the soul, lol.

Oh wow! That's terrible. Yeah, your story beats mine for sure. :)

Good post. I Could never survive without my smartphone!

It's possible, but I chose a different path. :)

This is absolutely true and there is no denying the fact that our society today is one with their phones and laptops. It can be helpful and benefital to those who use it for a good course and bad for thise

If we ever have a large EMP, things might get interesting. We might lose some of our humanity... or regain it, depending on the perspective.

I think we will lose it totally. Especially the children of today who cant go a day without Wi-Fi

I just don't know how to function without my phone, it's just how used to it I am. I believe what Elon Musk is saying about his neural lace and us being connected to the internet and the internet will be a cloud service to quantum computers too. After that who knows what happens we might even propel the next race of artificial intelligence too.

Yep. The future is going to be quite interesting. I also think that's why we need to focus on understanding the morality of artificial intelligence.

Fantastic video - thanks for sharing!

I really like the article
Good video too
Funny the way tech works
Its part of us now!

I totally agree that now our mobile become half of ours. And we have become more dependent on that. I know that when most of the time I face the mobile hanging problem it feels like my heart rates are getting slow... Hahaha... well it happens because my brother accidentally dropped it... And the backup... Yes I always try make backup of my all the stuff into my laptop.. I hope you are doing fine with your new one... Well what you did with your old one?

Right now it's a paper weight sitting on my desk. If you're phone is locking up, I recommend backing it up often and start saving for a replacement.

Yeah I think so.. I'm doing with backup... And paper weight.. hahaha...

Backups and passwords management, two things that have become critical and require our attention much more! I also need to work on improving those asap!

I'm glad this post helped encouraged you to do so!

Great post, please don't forget to upvote @aridhanuwsp Thank you

I've never paid more than $40 for a smartphone, and have always used a pay as you go service that costs under $50/month. Right now I'm using some LG thing I got two years ago, and it works o.k. - just doesn't have the storage to handle more than a few apps. I just prefer working at a computer so much more, where I can actually create content instead of just consuming it.

I'd love to go phone-free but it's amazing how many businesses have made that impossible. AirBnB won't even let you manage your home-rental business through the computer any more. If you don't have a smartphone you can't create an account.

Huh, interesting. Yeah, I keep hearing how some countries are all mobile and don't even bother with laptops/desktops.

Make a rule for a happy family life.... Keep the phone outside your room and restrict yourself to use it for 1 hr a day only..... I do this and I find myself in a lot better environment sharing time with family and feeling more lively :)

I know many take this approach, but I've decided to embrace it as part of me. I still don't use it at the dinner table (wife's orders), but I do use to enhance human interactions by looking things up that contribute to the conversation. Like any tool, I think what matters is how we use it. Glad you found something that works for you.