The Barry Manilow Effect.

by Lori Dwyer on June 28, 2013 · 8 comments

No one ever pays much attention to anyone else. Most people are entirely self–absorbed.

This can be a good thing.

When I was about twenty years old, I read a tiny article in a Readers Digest magazine that changed the way I looked at myself. It made me reassess all those stupid, inconsequential social mistakes that I’d made in the past; the social embarrassments I was sure other people remembered, that still kicked dents in my self-esteem.

It made me realise the only person who noticed them at all was me.

“Lecturer Dr Ken Savitsky asked one group (of college students) to wear t-shirts with an embarrassingly large photo of Barry Manilow to class. Students predicted that around half their classmates would notice, in reality, less than a quarter paid any attention.

No one cares that you totally dig Barry Manilow. Or that you fell up the stairs in ninth grade. Or said something rampantly inappropriate to someone you’d just met. No one cares that you cried in the middle of Woolies, or forgot to dress your kid in mufti clothes.

In reality, I don’t spend a whole lot of time thinking about what other people do. So why would they be thinking about me?

The only person who pays that much attention to you… is you.


The article struck me so profoundly  I cut and pasted it into one of my notebooks. The other clipping on the page is, if I remember correctly, from a That’s Life magazine. Clippings and notebook circa 2002.


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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Marie July 2, 2013 at 4:00 pm

Haha great article but so not true!! I wore a Roxette t-shirt on my first day of a new high school and I never lived it down. They called me Roxette girl. Years later a couple of customers came into my work and said “I think we went to high school together…are you Roxette girl?”


Name July 3, 2013 at 10:08 am

Oh no!!! Time to move maybe but I totally would have hung out with you. I loved roxette!!


Marie July 3, 2013 at 6:15 pm

Oh you could have been my friend. I followed them around Europe and met them and everything! But in high school…not cool.


Wes July 1, 2013 at 6:42 am

Oh gosh so true. I remember running in to a person I hadn’t seen in forever and I brought up an embarrassing story about myself that they had been privy to and he just looked at me like,”what are you talking about?” He didn’t even remember it and I had expected it to be quite the vivid memory.
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Miss Pink June 28, 2013 at 9:49 pm

It’s really so very true isn’t it? Something we need to conciously remind ourselves of from time to time.
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Donna @ NappyDaze June 28, 2013 at 6:54 pm

Such a good lesson Lori; one I often need to remind myself of!
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Lisa June 28, 2013 at 3:31 pm

Yes x 1000! I am forever having to remind my kids that so what if their haircut was a bit wonky, or they’ve got a cold sore or whatever, the fact is, other people just don’t give a shit. Everyone else is way too busy worrying about their own wonky hair and cold sore to notice. I wish more people would realise this!
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Whoa, Molly June 28, 2013 at 1:02 pm

I am guilty of this always. I waste an alarmingly large amount of time worrying about the silly things I have done and said and torturing myself. I remember once apologising for something I had done previously, something that I had berated myself for for hours, and my friend was all like, ‘Did you do that? I can’t even remember!’

And even though I know that people don’t even care or if they do, they only care for a minute or two, I still do it!

“In reality, I don’t spend a whole lot of time thinking about what other people do. So why would they be thinking about me?”

I think, the next time I’m having some epic freakout about something silly I’ve done, I should do well to remember this sentence.

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