The other day I passed a young woman who was texting and crying, bending intently over her phone as strangers brushed past her on the sidewalk.
She had a snappy little brown coat, fetching shoes, a neat ponytail — a put-together girl falling apart in public. I was a block beyond her before I realized that it hadn’t even occurred to me to consider stopping to say something sympathetic or encouraging. My normal first impulse — and, I think, most people’s, even in Boston — would be to make some sort of compassionate gesture, even if it’s just to ask, “Are you OK?” But this time any such instinct was overridden by technology.
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