The bottom line is that most humans never live the lives that are presented by the news media, by academics or by travellers. There is no universal description of life experience or lifestyle that can be relied upon to describe all members of a family, race, economic class, regional population or any other grouping of humans.
Public "awareness" is driven by the information source that gets to the most people. That information source is capable of all types of flaws in observation, method, integrity and truthfulness. But the public is made "aware", anyway.
"Hollywood", for example, more truthfully describes an industry, not a small town in Southern California. "Hollywood" can be in Sacramento, New York, Great Britain, on any continent and across any ocean.
Yet that does not stop hundreds of millions of people from sharing the negative and global perceptions that "Hollywood" consists of Blond, over groomed, spoiled and hedonistic celebrities who engage in extremely liberal or drug fueled social and political behavior.
The fact is that "Hollywood" has a tradition more of extreme conservatism in politics, as well as a very racist and sexist history. The mechanism is for the media to choose a few who are to represent "Hollywood", then to force the public into a limited obsession over them. Meanwhile, the vast majority of film and entertainment industry workers are in service as very stable, conservative, well disciplined and hard working people.
For every "glamorous" and photogenic image of an actor, producer or director, there are hundreds of individuals who work day and night to enable that particular action or image. The most important of these individuals may be acknowledged in the film credits, but there may be thousands more who are hidden behind the whole company or corporate credits that roll down the screen.
"The Military" is presented only in the form of the most exciting, combat oriented, costly, glamorous, "newsworthy" or horrible contexts, depending on the motivations, limitations and agendas of those who are making and reporting their observations.
There are individuals who, using a logical fallacy of "appeal to authority", position themselves as "military experts", but they can only know very tiny segments of the entire, global military experience.
There are four branches of the military, plus the Coast Guard, the Merchant Marine and the Civil Reserve Air Forces. No two branches operate in the same way and the military constantly changes and evolves. As a result, no two individuals, no matter how identical their resume of job titles and duty stations, have anywhere near the same experiences.
For every "glamorous" and photogenic image of a soldier, there are thousands of individuals who work day and night to enable that particular action or image. These individuals are rarely, if ever, acknowledged, as the military has no film credits.
Relatives, spouses and children of soldiers have only a limited perspective on what it is that a soldier actually does or has done on their jobs. This is because the jobs are complex, often classified and very difficult to explain. Also, descriptions of life on military bases and in military households will differ vastly, making no one an expert who has the whole picture of such a vast component of society.
These major groups are two examples of the improper ways in which the social problems of large groups are presented to the public. Over time, these improper perceptions are incorporated permanently into the public perception. In reality, the "facts" can be erroneous, fatally limited, distorted and otherwise tampered with to the point of becoming fallacious. Perceptions truly are not reality when it comes to large social groups and today's media.