When I was younger and my sister and I would get into a fight and say mean things to each other, my mother would always tell us "if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all." While I didn't understand what she meant by this statement at the time, the older I get, the more sense it makes.

I read comments to peoples' Facebook posts all the time. I personally like debating and understanding why people have the opinions they have; although I appear to be one of the few people who enjoy doing that. I notice that most of the time, people want to fight with someone else about their views.

A healthy debate is totally appropriate and a great way to gain knowledge; however, most Facebook "debates" don't end in "I see that we agree to disagree. Thanks for sharing your opinion with me! Now I know a little more about why you think the way you do and you know why I think the way I do".

More often, Facebook comments end in calling someone a name, belittling their intelligence or viewpoints, and blocking or reporting the other user.

BUT WHY ARE PEOPLE SO MEAN TO ONE ANOTHER?

Why can't people just accept that some people are pro-life and others are pro-choice? Why can't it be okay that some people believe in the building a wall and others are against it? Why do we have to belittle others with differing viewpoints?

There are some things that are just plain wrong and opinions rooted in hate of a race or religion is no exception. But I am not even talking about political or religious debates. People can get cruel on social media over vaccinations, dietary restrictions, and straw usage! Whether or not someone uses plastic should not affect the way they are treated.

I was raised in a very conservative area and now I live in a very liberal area. As a result, I recognize the differing views of others and why they might think the way they do. I also have never liked being disrespected for my opinions and I wouldn't want to do that to others.

Respecting peoples' political and religious opinions are not the only problems social media has, people are just plain mean. I have seen comments on photos of dogs that say "this dog is a killer" when all the post is trying to do is share a story about a neglected and abused dog finding a loving home.

Why do people have to destroy others' joy? Why, if someone has something mean to say, do they say it? What do they get from that?

I think the only people who post mean responses and call others' names on social media are malicious people who genuinely want to hurt others. They have no desire to respect others and as a result, they don't deserve respect either. Although they don't deserve to be respected, I am going to respect them because it is the right thing to do.

For example, someone in a Facebook group I am in called me a twat because I gave different advice to a new user than she would have. This wasn't political or religious. This was about shopping for groceries and she got so upset, she called me a twat. Why did she have to do that? Well, she didn't but wanted to hurt and belittle me.

But if I don't have anything nice to say about them, I will keep my mouth shut and not say anything at all. It is better to keep your opinion to yourself than to hurt someone else.

Don't get me wrong, though. I will stand up for a situation in which racism and sexism is inherently present. But if someone likes cats more than dogs and I am a dog person, I am not going to be rude to them over our differing opinions.

So next time you want to belittle someone on social media for a differing opinion or thought process than you, think back to a lesson you were taught when you were really little and if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all.