This is a very familiar saying to me because my mum used to own a couple of sets of the “Wise Monkeys” ornaments. Mum loved monkeys so I think that was the reason she had them but she taught us the saying and approved of it although perhaps she didn’t always live up to it. I don’t mean that she was mean or that she gossiped but sometimes she was tactless.
If I am honest, I’m not completely sure how to interpret the “See no evil” part. I do think that if there is evil in the world, and of course there is, we can’t turn a blind eye to it so I don’t know about that first one. “Hear no evil” to me means don’t listen to malicious gossip and stories and “Speak no evil” is about spreading such things. I’m sure that there are other interpretations that would make as much sense.
It is a lot easier to get into a war of words with people you don’t know on the internet than to have an argument with someone you know. The internet can be impersonal, you can make a nasty comment because something somebody wrote annoyed you and sometimes other people will join in and it gets blown out of proportion. You may not know the people so there is no way to know if they are joking or serious or even if they are just “stirring the pot” to provoke more arguing. In real life if you were having a spirited discussion, you would be able to see your opponent’s facial expressions and hear their tone of voice which would give you a better idea of whether or not they were trying to be insulting.
I think it’s OK to disagree with someone’s point of view and respectfully say so. I think it is OK to put forward a different opinion. I think it’s OK to criticise if it is constructive but it’s not OK to be rude and insulting. That other old adage, “Do unto others as you would be done by.” is a good one to remember.