Sorry this is late. I was actually hoping younger son would make it back to help me haul books so I could post a list of paper books for sale. (He says something about so busy, and finals and stuff. So…. Tomorrow morning, for a couple of hours. Maybe. If it doesn’t snow.)
Anyway, while trying to figure that out, I came across a friend complaining about people who come to blogs and leave comments saying “I can’t believe you forgot this point” when the point is exactly the one you made IN THE BLOG.
And this made me realize something I keep running into in increasing numbers: people who seem to have absolutely zero reading comprehension.
Perhaps it’s people who learned to read as whole-word readers and they miss a few important words? Or perhaps it’s just people who are in a great hurry. But it seems to me that more and more, I’m running across people who don’t read what’s posted and instead read what they expect to read.
It’s become almost a joke that our political opponents will come over and completely misinterpret whatever I said. I mean, remember when our then resident (now mostly on FB) voluntarianist got called Statist and thereby became Statist Josh? Or the time someone called an homophobe who’d obviously never left the United States?
It was hard, particularly on those posts (Wasn’t the last one about public libraries?) to even figure out how they came up with that TOPIC let alone that conclusion. But it almost always happens.
Look, there have always been people who read something and take not only a wrong, but usually a bizarre conclusion from it. I had a school friend who did this. Smart woman but something happened to anything she read. You know she could read a text on windmills and come out convinced it was about the plight of wolves re-introduced to the wild. Or something. It just would have zero to do with what was on the page. And none of us, talking about it (not with her, duh) ever figured out what she was actually reading.
I’ve run across a few other people like that.
But recently they’re the exception, not the norm. And not all of it is ideological. Send out an email asking someone “Do you breed moon ferrets? I’ve been looking into the endeavor, and find that you need a specialized kind of cage, but no one will tell me how specialized. I’d appreciate if you took the time to tell me, or show me a photograph.)”
The answer will be “Why, yes, I do sell moon ferret wool. It makes the softest sweaters. We spin it ourselves, and have some for sale. I don’t know if you want to come by or just go to moon ferret wool store on Moon street.”
And that is tangentially related and the response is for something that could make the writer money.
But the more common is something like this, “Dear Bob, I’ve been doing pretty poorly and hope you are well. I have arthritis and rheumatism and need heart surgery later this year.”
Response from Bob, “Well, I’m glad you’re doing well. I certainly am not. [List of issues.])
The only explanation is that people skim the first line and fill in what they need to make sense of the three words they actually read.
This makes business communications hellish, but most of all it reminds me of two of the regulars at the village tavern. One was a farmer, the other a stone breaker. Fast friends. both deaf as posts.
Their conversations went something like this
“We’re now breaking into granite, it’s hard as hell.”
“Oh, yeah, it’s about the time to prune the vines.”
“I know, and no matter what we try, it takes us twice the time of any other stone.”
As a little kid, I thought this was the funniest thing I’d ever heard.
But how the heck can we work and live if we’ve all become that deaf couple?