Time shift

Jenny Odell explains why I kept scrolling through the bird site, like a laboratory pigeon hitting the lever to get a food pellet, even when every fifth pellet was an ad and most of the others were repeats.

Entrainment, a term that originated in biology and then spread to the social sciences, refers to the alignment of an organism’s physiology or behavior with a cycle; the most familiar example would be our circadian rhythm. The signal driving entrainment, in this case light and dark, is called a “zeitgeber” (German for “time giver”)….

Something like entrainment seems to be at work in our relationship to Twitter and other forms of social media. The rate of updates and notifications provides a powerful zeitgeber — one that can even override our circadian rhythm, as any nighttime scroller knows.