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How Media, Society And Culture Shape My Reality

Xhyzide Peci

Discovery Course


There are different theories that deals with each of factors in shaping one’s reality. Social

construct theory is the one that deals with how society helps and cultivates the shaping of the

reality from social interaction and the different actions becoming a norm for oneself based on

socially acceptable values. This theory is the primary focused on views based on experiences and

beliefs of oneself. From this derives also the famous theorem known also as the Thomas

theorem: “if men define situations as real, they are real in their consequences” and Schopenhauer

quoting of Epictetus: “it is not what things objectively and actually are, but what they are for us

and in our way of looking at them that makes us happy or unhappy.” Just to take an example of a

situation where the norms are perceived as different as they could be, based on experiences of

oneself: A wealthy individual who has a pet and gives the best organic food he can afford to his

pet based on vet’s recommendation, while a minimum-wage worker who loads this food into rich

guy’s car might feel rage and anger when he finds out of how much money is spend into this

gentlemen’s pet food. More so the minimum-wage worker might be thinking that the pet is

eating better food than him and thus doubting the reality perception of rich gentleman. These

views are based totally on one’s experiences in which case, the rich gentleman is living amongst

rich people, and spending that much money is a worthy expense, while the minimum-wage

worker has learned from social interactions that spending that much money on a pet is a negative


On the other hand, there are theories that deal with reality shaped based on media and that of

specific media such as television programming, Internet and video games. This theory is also

known as cultivation theory and is mass communication theory developed to examine media

effects1. The effects of the media can be grouped in different categories based on how media is

consumed: media used (television, video game, music video), programme type (drama, fiction,

romance, forensics), individual differences (gender, race).

We will start initially discussing the media effects based on media used. There has been shown a

direct proportion between time dedicated to watching TV and poor quality of commitment in

relationships. This result has come primarily from programming focusing in romantic

relationships. Similarly, there has been a tendency amongst teenagers smoking habits to increase

due to exposure under TV advertising. Also, there has been an indication to fear of sexual

violence association with television viewing especially of crime drama. Another medium usage

of importance in having direct effects on perception of reality are video games, since its increase
of popularity in recent years. It is the most influential medium among teenagers. A study has

indicated that playing a video game has altered the perception of an ideal city amongst teenagers,

thus it increased the expectation of city authorities and a high level of distrust towards the current

city issues. This is a positive effect that a video game did among this community of teenagers,

however there could be other games that could impose a negative effect to one’s mind and

beliefs. There has been found a strong connection between reckless driving and playing car

racing video games. So, the content of video games has been important to the long-term effects

left under those that consumed it. Another feature noticed from the video games overall amongst

girls and boys is the unrealistic ideal body image they impose as well as in long-existing eating

disorder. The image of female body depicted in 150 top selling video games in smaller waist,

1 Lai, W.T., Chung, Ch.W.,& Po, N.S. (2015). How do media shape perceptions of social
reality? A review on cultivation theory, Journal of Communication and Education, 2(2), 9-10
2 Lai, W.T., Chung, Ch.W.,& Po, N.S. (2015). How do media shape perceptions of social
reality? A review on cultivation theory, Journal of Communication and Education, 2(2), 11

hips and chest sizes than the average American women. The problem is also aggravated due to

females, recent rise in video game play resulting in body dissatisfaction and falling to a victim of

thin ideal.

Distancing ourselves from video games and switching to music video content, which has also

had a great social effect on reality perception amongst teenagers a who were under the

consumption of these music video materials. And both cultivation and planned behavior theory

has shown that teenagers had a prevalence of risky driving under influence of alcohol due to

being affected by music video.

Overall the problem of having a disturbed reality perception and fabrication has resulted from

different themes of television programming. There has been evidence that forensics and fictional

television programme has affected the decision making of the jurors in US. On the other side a

strong relationship has been prevalent also among risky driving behavior and teenagers who

were consuming action movies, since action movies were associated with risk-taking behavior.

However news watching associated with traffic collisions has generated negative feelings about

dangerous driving behavior.

Another television programming that is interesting to consider is the fictional programmes. A

study has been conducted among Germans and Austrians to evaluate wether the fictional

narratives portrayed the world as a just world and indeed there was a proportional relation

between views of the just world and the frequency of watching fictional televised programme.

Interestingly enough there is another case in Spain where channels broadcasting the immigrants

as having low educational level and unstable job situation has increased the prejudice against


Individual differences such as gender, race and age can render alternate reality perception as

well. Studies has shown that chronic viewing of television can affect self-esteem of white and

black girls, including black boys. On the other side, white boys have shown positive effects when

being extensively exposed to television. Another observation is that females are marginalized in

some specific genres on television thus resulting in negative perception about their horizons to

feasibility in the world. Gender difference has played as well a role in how much one gender has

memory vividness towards the crime and violence. Religious beliefs have also shown to affect

the perception of reality, for example a study of ~700 mixed religious and non-religious

respondents under longer television exposure have shown different predisposition towards crime.

Non-religious group had a higher estimation of commonness of crime than the religious group.

As a conclusion consequences caused by media exposure are threefold be it behavior,

relationships or perception.

Of particular interest is the impact of media in infants and their distorted perception of reality.

There are multiple harmful effects of media in children’s mental and physical health of which


 Watching violent programming results in an increase of violent behavior by children

 Excessive television watching increases the cases of obesity

 Excessive watching has effects on learning and academic performance

 Certain programming can cause irresponsible sexual behavior

 Inappropriate advertising can have adverse effects on various ages

It has been shown that watching television takes time from normal development of social

activities such as reading, playing, learning to talk, storytelling.


Not everything coming from television programming has shown a bad effect in children there are

certain programming that stimulates activities such as: visiting zoo, libraries, bookstores,

museums and other recreational settings. Also, educational videos can be a powerful teaching

device. On the downside based on well-controlled studies even 2 hours of TV viewing can

degrade the academic performance and affect reading.

Apart from affecting in social activities of children extensive TV viewing can cause passiveness

and less physical activity resulting in gaining weight and finally obesity. Combined with

nonhealthy advertising of food products that are saturated in fat and high energy and cholesterol

which causes further unhealthy practice. It has been found that commercials for healthy food

consist of only 4 % of the programming.

Cultural differences also pose a great role in reality perceptions. Eastern and Western cultures

have a distinct perception and subsequently cognition process for different sort of situations.

Eastern cultures are more collectivist societies so the opinion about oneself and others is

distorted from the group thinking and traditions. In contrary in Western culture the one’s reality

is percepted as focused as it could get into oneself so called analytical perspective. All the

differences could be grouped into disparate items as follow: perception of emotion, environment

and sensory perceptions. Western cultures view oneself as an autonomous and independent

person whereas the Eastern cultures percept the individual as more connected and less

differentiated from others. Another difference between cultures that could shape their reality is

that Western culture individual becomes part of a group so that he/she can fulfill his own needs

whereas in Eastern culture people serve the group to which they belong.


All in all we as human beings are shaped and have our unique cognitive process for our

surrounding reality from all sort of sources be it society, media or culture. And it is most

probably impossible to know one’s perspective for a particular situation without knowing all the

different factors that contributed in one’s upbringing and education. Moreover, this paper has

introduced to the theories as how it may be reached into conclusion with the help of different

theories such as societal construction and cultivation theory for the effects that can shape one’s



Arendt, H., (1960, Spring), Society and culture. The MIT Press on behalf of American Academy
of Arts & Sciences

Lai, W.T., Chung, Ch.W.,& Po, N.S. (2015). How do media shape perceptions of social reality?
A review on cultivation theory, Journal of Communication and Education

Hammermeister, J., Brock, B., Winterstein, D., & Page,R., (2005). Life without TV? Cultivation
theory and psychosocial health characteristics of television-free individuals and their television-
viewing counterparts, Health Communication

Van Vonderen, K.E.,& Kinnally W., (2012), Media effects on body image: examining media
exposure in the broader context of internal and other social factors, American Communication