Our generation has grown up alongside the development of technology, it is easy to realize that we are submerged in a media environment because it is almost impossible to ignore the advertisements, commercials, and technology devices that surround us in our everyday life. However, a majority of our society is unaware of many of the affects and influences it has on our lives. As Baran states, “the Media so fully saturates our everyday lives that we are often unconscious of their presence, not to mention their influence.” (4). We have grown up absorbing lessons and expectations of our culture as a result from living within our societies media bubble, mass media acts as “cultural storytellers” and we have been learning these stories for years. (15). The media affects how we perceive our everyday world. What it puts out for our society to watch shapes how we view our own realities. In The Truman Show, Truman grows up in a false reality that he believes is a normal world because he has never learned anything to counter his experiences. He has accepted his lifestyle as normal because his life knowledge that has been shaped by what the media told him to consider as the norm. Similar to The Truman Show, our society has also been inaccurately affected by what our country’s institutions choose to show us. For example, within the United States media bubble we have been shown that we are living in an increasingly violent world. This has affected how parents raise their children, and how we choose to spend our leisure time. However, studies show that our world is no less dangerous than it was fifty years ago. (Pinker, Mack). Our media bubble along with Truman’s have the power to present distorted truths of the world we live in, however because these bubbles have been something we have been put in since birth, we will never be completely aware of how influenced we are by our media environment until we put ourselves out of it entirely.
“We accept the reality of the world with which we’re presented.” In The Truman Show, Truman has accepted the reality in which he is a part of, just as most people within common society do today. It is unusual, on a daily basis for a person to reflect that deeply on their place within the world and their purpose or what’s around them in their every day life. Christof tells Truman that he is safe in the world that he has created over the years for him, and that there is no less deception outside his “bubble.” Christof argues that his so called “cruelty” is not being forced upon the viewers, they have the freewill to change the channel, just as media executives argue for their often inappropriate or outrageous programming. Our lives are dictated by what we interact with, especially our surrounding media, it becomes such a normal part of our existence, that we can rarely acknowledge the effect it has on who we are and how it makes us behave. Just as Truman accepts his reality just up until something odd occurs in his routine (the part of the set that falls from the sky and breaks on the street in front of him). The common man accepts their reality, until something goes awry within their lives, which is why we only give people what they want, and that the more knowledge of the world is power because it creates awareness that we are blind to what is not immediately in front of us.
Much like how Christof controlled the way Truman perceived his life, the heads of media industries have the capability to regulate information within our society. Christof believed that he was doing what was best for Truman, saving him from the real deceit and lies that people experience everyday outside of his bubble. He justifies the television show by saying that the real world is the true “sick place”. Correspondingly, our media industries morph how we view and create opinions of the world around us. By ignoring and selecting specific media to present within our society they are also attempting to keep us comfortable within the reality they have chosen to display us. In a way, they are also concealing us from “the sick place”. Christof explains that if Truman truly wanted to discover the truth then it would be impossible for the producers to stop him, this coincides with the concept that as a society we are all affected by the third person effect. For many people within our society there is a shared common attitude “that others are influenced by media messages but that we are not” being “not self aware or honest enough to see its influence on our lives”. (32).
The only way to counter the habit of preferring our ignorance to the reality of the media’s control over our lives is by advancing our media literacy. Truman asks “is nothing real?” during the final scene of the film, as he discovers how his life has been adjusted and tainted by Christof he is able to think critically and becomes aware of the impact of media. It is when Truman gains concentration of ownership that he is finally informed on his world’s authenticity and has the means to make the decision himself. If Truman was never able to question the way information has been presented to him by his adaptation of media literacy, then he never would have had the resources to be educated enough to break free from the bubble.
The concept of socially constructed reality is how we create definitions, realities and the foundation of our every day lives. In The Truman Show, Truman’s socially constructed reality is heavily constructed by those around him who are hired to “construct” his reality of the show surrounding his life. They have actors create situations for Truman, such as when he has a connection with Sylvia, but she becomes unavailable to him and disappears all together, so he ends up marrying Meryl who is essentially served to him on a silver platter when she falls into his lap during a pep rally. Anther socially constructed reality is what keeps Truman from attempting to leave his home town. At an early age, they “kill off” Truman’s father in a boating accident where he drowns at a sea in a large storm, because of this, Truman fears the water and since the only way to leave is either by boat or bride, he can never summon the courage to face his fears to leave. Another reality that is socially constructed, is how Truman spends his time, his job is a rouse to some extend, his neighbors greet him each day, his other neighbor’s dog jumps on him, so on and so forth. His entire life is a construction of reality, as by definition is our’s, and since we rarely have the opportunity to look outside of our “bubble” the construction is our reality.