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What you should, and shouldn't, write on someone's Facebook timeline

Facebook is a place for friends. And friends of friends, and relations, and friends of relations, and people that you often have no idea who they are. So if you're not sure what to post on someone's timeline (technically, it's called their "wall), then hesitate. But if you understand the spirit that Facebook was created for, you'll be fine.

Facebook was created to allow friends to write on each other's walls (what most people call the "timeline" or "news feed"). That means that instead of writing an email, or calling someone, you could just go to their Facebook page and write something there, such as "I hope you're doing fine in Minneapolis!" or "Happy Birthday!" Yes, that's how Facebook originally was. People wrote on each other's walls. If my friend Bob found a cute photo of a dachshund, he could post it on my wall and when I saw it I would smile. It was a great idea, and it caught on. So, instead of sending emails back and forth and wondering if they went through, someone would write on a friend's wall, and their friend would click "Like", which was an acknowledgement that they had seen it, and liked it.

But some friends are idiots. They started posting rants on other people's walls, or they started trying to sell stuff, or promote things. And the idea of writing on a friend's wall faded away. A lot of people don't even know that you can write on Facebook walls, and are surprised when someone does.

Many people have their Facebook settings restricting other people from writing on their walls. This is a response to the idiots who rant on their walls, instead of saying friendly things. If it's a friend of yours, you may be the person who caused it (if you rant a lot or try to sell stuff).

The workaround for this lately has been to just write someone's name in a comment. That way the person has to go to the page and check to see why their name is there. That's why you'll often just see someone's name in a comment for a Facebook post. The reality is that if you want someone to see something, and you think it's worthwhile, click "share" and it will appear on their wall, they won't have to go looking for it. If you can't do that, then the person doesn't want to see stuff. Leave them alone.

Facebook was designed as a place for friends to share the most important things in life, the trivial things, the human things. I call it "Monkey Chatter", and it's wonderful. So go ahead and write on someone's wall, or share something to brighten their day. If it's a rant, or a sales pitch, don't.

I hope this helps.