The pool attendant brought out a cart of new towels, and I watched various people come up and grab them. The first person chose a towel from the second pile from the left in the middle rack. As you can see, almost everyone afterwards chose from the same pile. A few people changed it up by taking one from the piles immediately on either side. A brave handful chose from the piles immediately above and below – and the rest of the piles, more than half of them, remained untouched.
Even though Mark and Duncan’s arguments are very persuasive, sometimes I find the idea of trendsetters and key influencers to be hard to let go, because it makes intuitive sense and has become so ingrained in the conventional wisdom.
But all of the arguments about influencers and trendsetters kind of fall flat when I see an example as simple as this one. Was there something inherently cool about that particular pile of towels? Was there something aspirational about that first person who chose from that pile?
Two things to conclude: people just like doing the same thing that other people are doing. And I’m a geek who really should relax more on vacation.