Twitter Is The New Recess

by Sean Platt from Ghostwriter Dad and Collective Inkwell. Follow him @writerdad.

For the first few months after I’d signed up for my Twitter account, it sat there doing little outside taunting me with what I didn’t know and was not yet ready to learn.

It was the newest of the new; the styrofoam peanuts still sticking to the blue bird’s feathers. I’d heard how amazing Twitter was; a shot of adrenaline to socializing, marketing and a dozen other ings all singing in unison.

But I didn’t get it.

Every time I loaded the web page I felt like a million minutes were melting from my day. How could anyone pull value from such an incessant stream of data? How was advantage sifted and filtered? An concept founded on fast moving information, slung across an interface filled with molasses only seemed to underscore one essential truth:

When I was on Twitter, I wasn’t working.

I tried Twitter a few more times, but each experience felt like I was being told to do something that was good for me. My ears grew numb to the dull, incessant chatter. Until I tried TweetDeck.

The first time I was on TweetDeck I felt like I was among the first to ride the railroad rather than brave the frontier in a covered wagon across long months just to reach the promise of gold in California. TweetDeck changed everything… well, almost everything.

Still, whenever I was on Twitter, I wasn’t working.

Though I was starting to enjoy the rapid exchange that never paused, like a ceaseless stream of salmon swimming, enjoyment did nothing to lengthen my day and thus left me feeling counter-productive.

Then I really got it.

There is magic inside Twitter, no doubt, though I believe the enchantment is different for everyone. The perspective from which we view Twitter will directly dictate the value we extract. For me, Twitter is a wonderful place to banter and network, be myself as fast as my fingers will let me. Catch up with friends and play with people I didn’t know yesterday.

Twitter is my recess.

Once I held that idea dear, the very nature of Twitter twisted into something more tangible. I am a hard worker. Each day piles my plate with plenty, and it is only the minding of my minutes that keeps me moving along. No one can plow through each day without taking a break. Adults are given moments from each hour with which to step back and breath a bit of different air. Children are given a recess from learning to play with their peers and traffic in diversion.

Now that Twitter is my recess I keep my nose down and all five fingers dancing up and down the home row. In between tasks, I pause to take my recess. I don’t play tether ball or hide-n-seek, but I do answer questions, crack a few jokes, gather feedback and then return to my work day with my smile a little broader.

I’ve never loved Twitter more. Discovering it was my recess made all the difference. Maybe it’s your recess too.


  • April 27, 2009

    Twitter has always been my water-cooler, as I imagine it is for many who are web-workers or otherwise bereft (not quite a suitable word here) of the social context of a workplace. Last August, faced by a friend’s wife who wanted to know how the said friend and I had time to catch up if we were supposedly working, I showed her through a few questions that we work in a highly productive (if somewhat lonely) setting. Ergo if she thinks we are wasting time, a review of her own day (not to mention £££) will show she wastes much more. :-)

    So, glad to find someone else has discovered the truth too.

  • April 27, 2009

    Seesmic Desktop is a step beyond Tweetdeck. Try it out (I am no way commercially connected with it, just a happy user).

  • April 27, 2009

    This is a great way to view it and we do need these breaks through out the day. Although it is still a good idea to actually see the outdoors now and then, using twitter is a great way to relax the mind and maybe even gain some inspiration to get you going once again.

  • April 27, 2009

    I have a newborn, so Twitter is my recess and my auditorium :P When I need a break from the endless demands of parenting, or when I just need to be heard by other moms, I love that I can walk over here and, with my one free hand, type a 140 character plea for adult interaction that is swiftly answered. Or, that I can type a quick, sympathetic reply to those same women. It’s great.

  • April 27, 2009

    It has taken me about one month to really “understand” the power of the medium – only because someone dared to explain it to me. Many people do not understand the power within a tweet, the exchange, and even access to people who one normally would never encounter. I think this particular medium is bringing us all closer together in humanity. Perhaps a bit grand, but I do feel, we are breaking down worldwide fences.

  • April 27, 2009

    I agree twitter is just like recess. I try to take it a little more seriously then that but it really isnt. Twitter is just a tool that you can use however you like. In the end whenever you jump on you get into conversations and find some cool stories. Usually fun compared to a lot of the other grind away work that has to be done each day.

  • April 27, 2009

    I agree that it can be a very good place to take a break from work. That said… I’d also argue that if it’s important to stay up on a few blogs out there, it could take the place of reading important blogs and that could become a detriment.

    Either way it’s fun stuff.

  • April 27, 2009

    Twitter isn’t so much the new recess as it is the new water cooler. If water cooler conversation is the more relaxed version of a corporate conference, Twitter is the more open alternative to e-mail and blogging. Both e-mail and blogging, initially designed to quicken business conversations and loosen the corporate tongue, have instead been integrated into the corporate lifestyle.

  • April 27, 2009
    Bob Miller

    Since this is my first try on Twitter, I like the analogy a lot. When is it a good time to be on and not “doing stuff.” Recess…good idea.

  • April 27, 2009

    I’d agree that Twitter is great for taking a break. The idea of it being a kind of recess DOES help me see it more as a brief time to connect, not so much a constant background noise. Though I do use it for more serious matters than kickball much of the week, I love its ability to put a smile on my face when I need a boost.

    Thanks for the great perspective, Sean! Excellent insight from WriterDad, no doubt! :-) Eric

  • April 27, 2009

    Shefaly: Hey, when you have recess to look forward to, sitting at the desk is a million times more tolerable!

    Lucky: I will try that. TweetDeck definitely has its few flaws, and spoiled as I am, I can always be more spoiled.

    Kathryn: It’s just about the pause, right? Going to bathroom or grabbing some popcorn during the commercial break, brings you back to your show with a lot more appreciation. Taking a break during work is even better. And yes, fresh air is a necessity.

    Sofia: I agree with what you are saying, Sofia. The idea that territories matter less and less all the time while the character of articulation matters more and more… well that is a beautiful thought.

    Jared: Exactly. Even though I do take it seriously and try to follow all the rules of etiquette, having a frivolous outlook (like equating it to recess) helps me pull the most from it.

    Bamboo: Hiya Bamboo! I’ll admit, Twitter has taken some of the minutes from my reader. However, I’ve also come into contact with a few blogs that I would not have otherwise. As you say, it’s fun stuff either way.

    Ed: Well said and totally true. Twitter IS the new water cooler.

    Bob Miller: Hey they even get a 10 minute break at McDonalds!

    Eric: Yeah, that outlook has helped me enormously. When I thought of Twitter as background noise it did so little for me that it was easy to consider it nothing but a waste of time. Now I look forward to it.

  • April 27, 2009

    Hey nice blog by the way!

    I’ve been working on a new concept (well new for me anyway) it involves connecting a particular industry to its customers using twitter updates as a means of updating our site with special offers and new product launches etc. Just wondered if anyone had any comments regarding the concept and if it was something anyone had seen before? please feel free to post on our blog with any links to similar projects… I’d love to get some feed back!

  • April 27, 2009

    Hi Sean! Good to see you here. I love the analogy of Twitter as recess – the one I usually use is Twitter as my neighborhood coffee shop or bar. Think Cheers or that coffee shop at friends. Sometimes I run in and only have time to grab my stuff and shout a quick hello other times I can stop and linger and have a great conversation.

  • April 27, 2009

    Thanks for this.

    Ive been trying to “classify” Twitter for myself, figuring out where it fits. With my latest blog I decided I wanted to simplify and just choose 2 or 3 social networking sites to focus my energy on. Twitter is one of them. I can see how fantastic it could be but yet to find my mojo. Will no, after hearing it talked about over and over, try Tweetdeck.

    Nice to hear someone else expressing my own feelings on it but coming out the other end all good :)

    Thanks again.

  • April 27, 2009

    Tracy: Hi Tracy! Nice to see you as well. That’s an excellent analogy. Tomorrow when I open TweetDeck I’m going to be humming, “When Everybody Knows Your Name…”

    My Diary: My absolute pleasure.

  • April 27, 2009

    Thanks, Sean, for so capturing my frustration with Twitter in such a perfect way. Even after TweetDeck I’m still stuck and feeling like it’s a waste of time. I personally prefer to smell fresh air or decompress differently during my recess. I haven’t given TweetDeck much attention, since it’s a guilty un-pleasure, but imagine it might improve the experience. I’m still trying to figure out “why”? Is it worth it?

  • April 28, 2009

    For my wife it is Facebook. I never understood how she could spend so much time ‘doing nothing’ now the shoe is on the other foot. I am on Twitter every break I get to see what’s going on, learn things and meet people. Great summary, recess.

  • April 28, 2009


    You always have the greatest perspective on things. I’ll keep my Twitter tab open just to have a peek at what the other yay-whos are doing at recess. Sometimes I’ll get out my ball for a quick game of 4-square, and sometimes I’ll just sit on a swing and watch.

    Awesome analogy. Yet another reason why you are the rockin-est.


  • May 6, 2009

    Thats the real fact about twitter, if you dont manage it good you will find you self lousing a lot of time in front of it, so you have to organize your self how you will use it, that one of the reason of this web page, that in one of his post mention how to schedule you self for twitter and to dont louse time on it.

    But fine reflaction you give us in the good post.

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