When Technology Inherits "Lebanon Syndrome"

In recent weeks, I’ve been feeling a surge of oppression in matters big and small, and I’m starting to think it comes with the package of living in Lebanon. My Lebanese readers can probably relate when I say there’s never a dull moment in this frenzied country.

Consider my smartphone, hardly six months old, which I acquired on my last visit to the US back in September. Two weeks ago, the fingerprint-sensitive home button stopped responding, and naturally, I consulted my brothers, self-avowed tech geeks, on the matter.


My OnePlus 2 smartphone (photo credit: www.androidauthority.com)


One option was to return the phone to the manufacturer, as the warranty is valid for one year from purchase. Now normally, the manufacturer settles all shipping costs under warranty, but Lebanon isn’t on the list of countries freely dealt with, and I would have to settle the shipping and customs fees, to and from their service center in China. Um, no.

We quickly scrapped that option and considered our own intervention, which, guided by user forums, meant installing the latest Oxygen OS 3.0 Beta. Fair enough. 

So I started to download all 1.1 gigabytes of the installation file, only to wince in pain at the estimated time to completion. The rate at my home rivaled that of the world’s slowest Internet recorded in Congo in 2011, which would make even a 1990s dial-up Internet user cringe.

So I toted my laptop to a friend’s flat in Mar Mikhael, where the internet speed was slightly more merciful on my poor soul. An hour and a half later, I had that gargantuan file in my Downloads folder, ready to be transferred to the smartphone.

Lo and behold, that procedure didn’t prove to be an easy feat, and we ended up wiping clean the data and cache after instituting a factory reset on the phone. Another hour later, we were able to finally unpack the zipped file to Internal Storage, and we proceeded to reboot the phone.

But guess what? That didn’t resolve the home button failure either.


Photo credit: www.pcadvisor.co.uk


So we considered a plethora of anecdotal fixes from other users. Drain the battery to zero, and then charge the phone to 100% in the off state. Nope. Utterly useless.

Disable the special gestures unique to the phone? Nope, another futile attempt.

Wipe the cache and data again, and start once more from the virgin state? Another letdown.

My smartphone was incorrigible and had no interest in self-reparation. It preferred its imperfect state, in ironic defiance of its "Never Settle" desktop marquis. And that drove me nuts.

Which made me wonder. Could it have acquired "Lebanon syndrome"? Could it be that after passing the six-month mark, it had synced up with Lebanon's chaotic character? That in a nod of adaptation and assimilation, my smartphone went berserk?

I’ve since enabled the on-screen navigation bar to circumvent the defunct home button. It’s a decent fix, but the phone remains flawed. Seems its country of residence has grown on it.

Well, I should have guessed as much from the get-go. Blast.


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