. . . my old reader response teacher.

With a text, all you have is the text.

You can read something, especially from someone you think you know, and because you think, in your mind, that the person must be angry to say that, you can decide they are angry even if they are not. Because something makes you laugh, you can think the person is deliberately making a joke, and they might not be, it might be just the connections of your own mind.  Because you think a person doesn’t really mean what they have written, you can decide they are lying, sarcastic, ironic, and none of that might be true.

You can read, or even hear, strong and straightforward words, and think the person must be full of hate and anger, and that also might not be true.  You can read, ‘I love you’, and think it means something different from what it does.  You can think it’s sexual and it isn’t, you can think it’s a father fixation and it isn’t, you can think it’s a mature, clear minded, unemotional statement, and it isn’t.

You can’t even say the context makes it.  You create the context yourself by what you prioritise and what you decide isn’t that important.  Also, you don’t know when a person is censoring their own communication, or what they are leaving out or why.

You don’t know any of that stuff. Maybe you never will.  Not even face to face in the most longstanding and intimate of relationships.

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