I was really interested recently to read this post from Mark Anderson (@ICTEvangelist) on the subject of taking a break from Twitter. It made me thoughtful (as the best blogs do).
Since I discovered Twitter in 2011, shortly after I finished full-time work in education, I haven't really had a break from it. I tend to check Twitter most days, and, even on holiday, will often set aside a short time to check what's new. On a recent break in Cadiz, for example, I would take my laptop to breakfast and, after we'd eaten and before I headed out to the pool, I checked and responded to emails and what was new on Twitter before closing the laptop down for the day and enjoying my holiday. This works for me.
However, if I were still working, and using Twitter professionally, I think I would manage this differently. When I was a head, in particular, I needed to have stretches of time where I relaxed and didn't think about education at all. Unless I consciously unwound for part of my holiday I knew I wouldn't return to school refreshed and re-energised when term started. So I would decide which were 'work days', and on other days I wouldn't check work emails or read things which were education-related. The school always knew how to get in touch with me in an emergency. I wouldn't check in 'just in case'. I needed a proper break.
I advise teachers and leaders in schools at all levels who use Twitter for personal and professional reasons to try two separate accounts and not to access the professional account when they are really trying to rest. I've talked about that here. I would certainly disable alerts on your phone or laptop so that school emails or educational Twitter have to be 'pulled' and are not automatically 'pushed'. I love Twitter (as the number of tweets I have posted suggests!) and I love social networking as a source of personal and professional development, but I think these things should be our servants and not our masters. I hear people say, "But I find it interesting and enjoy it..." I still think we need to ensure we are not neglecting our friends, our families and our own well-being by engaging with social media too much.
A fair number of those I connect with 'disappear' for a while, and come back when they're ready. That's the beauty of Twitter and the world of blogging - they will be here if and when you want to return. Someone told me Twitter is like a waterfall. You can't catch it all so don't try to. Take your cup along when you're ready, and go back for more when the time is right. Perhaps you might enjoy it even more from having had the rest? Don't worry about what you might have missed - the good stuff has a habit of coming round again, in my experience.
So what do you think?