I use Hootsuite to follow when people mention me (lingosteve) or LingQ on Twitter. Recently I had the following exchange.A certain Randy(yearlyglot) posted this opinion. “Personally, I think @lingosteve is a self-important gas bag, who loves his own voice.” I replied “@yearlyglot your opinion of me is not relevant to the issue of language learning. Have you anything of substance to offer?” Randy replied “@lingosteve Oh, I forgot to add “fragile egotist.”” ??and “@lingosteve You don’t get to dictate what I say online – even when it is about you. :)” I replied “@yearlyglot in other words you have nothing of substance to say.” and Randy replied “@lingosteve No, Steve, it’s just that it’s fun to pick at you. You take the bait so easily.” Now, none of this really matters too much. It is just that if someone came into a room full of people and shouted “so and so is self-important gas bag”, “so and so” might in fact take the bait. There might be consequences. But in the virtual world, insults are quite a bit more common, with few consequences. But this quickness to insult is, in my view, tied to another problem, and that is the unwillingness to discuss and debate ideas, especially contrary ideas. I blame our universities?? for promoting the idea that there are certain obvious truths, and people who challenge these truths are not only wrong, but are fair game for all manner of insults and name calling.?? Randy is a prime example of this phenomenon. If you visit his site you will see that he is interested in languages, plans to learn a new language every year, and is very much involved with learning Esperanto. An intellectual, a thinker, a progressive, a gentleman, I have no doubt, but also someone who has trouble expressing a point of view and defending it.