"As an android, I have no feels."
I also have a whole rant about how the only way to intrepret Data is as having basically built up heuristic blocks that stop him from realizing when he uses contractions (or how easy they would be to incorporate into his speech regularly if he just added them as new words to his vocabulary) or recognizing when he is clearly evincing what is obviously an emotion even if the source and presentation differ from what those around him expect, but I keep getting sidetracked thinking about that episode where Picard was maneuvered into having dinner alone with Lwaxana and in desperation he calls Data up and asks him to share his many interesting facts and anecdotes about propulsion systems and Data is so clearly pleased to have been asked.
It differs from episode to episode in a way that makes me feel like the writers got it to varying degrees, but basically every episode has a bit where Data says something like, “I yearn to feel emotions, but I can’t, and this makes me sad.” and it’s like, is this a Tin Man thing? Where he’s so aware that he doesn’t have a ~*heart*~ that he really doesn’t realize what he’s doing and saying and expressing?
The best episodes make it clear through inference if nothing else that what concerns him is that the things he experience differs from what humans experience, but it feels like there was an editorial mandate of “Data Has No Feelings” so even at the end of a five minute scene that centers entirely around his emotional state, everybody looks solemnly at the camera and says “But of course, as an android, he’s emotionless.”
And when it’s his coworkers, they just look like insensitive dicks, but when it’s Data, it’s heartbreaking.
Because he does so obviously yearn for this, and he does so obviously feel sad that he can’t have it.
When I was consciously convinced Data is an ensouled being was at the end of In Theory when Data states he’s wiping all the love affair algorithms he’s been building all episode. That’s not the action of a being who named himself after his quest to collect information, that’s the act of a being who has lost at love for the first time.