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Yesterday I attended a Boost Your Business event organized by Facebook at COSI. Reflecting on that statement, it seems a little weird in retrospect that such an event was held at “a dynamic hands on science center…” but I digress.

Walking into the building, I followed some posted signs pointing me in the direction of the correct room in the building.


The penultimate sign read “Please take elevator to the second floor.”

As I walked past the sign towards the elevator, I saw a massive group of people standing and waiting for the elevator to come down and transport a small number of them up to the second floor.

The second floor!

As I approached the group, I made eye contact with a couple of folks as I turned into the stairwell. I heard a murmur from a few of them, “Oh we could just take the stairs…”

It’s become kind of a cultural trope to say, “find your own path” and “ignore instructions” but the reality is, a lot of us still take things (like instructions) at face value. We read something, see an opinion, see a semblance of factual evidence, and buy into it. And not only do we buy into it, we spread it. Advocate for it.

How frequently do you Google something and take the first result as authority?

My point is two-fold:

1.) Taking information on face value is dangerous and limiting. It’s the reason we have such distinct information and belief bubbles on social media.

2.) If you are in a position to provide information or instruction to someone else, take it seriously. Whether in the case of user interface design or a sign at a conference, it may surprise you how literally people take your instruction.