What “House of Cards” Has Shown Me About the Insatiable Nature of Humans

1924892_10152235175532489_705666336_oI must admit, I’m a big fan of the Netflix political drama House of Cards.  That’s something I couldn’t have said to you 3 weeks ago because I hadn’t watched a single episode.  That’s usually how it goes for me.  Rarely am I an “early adopter,” so to speak, when it comes to television shows.  I didn’t start watching Breaking Bad until just after it had ended and I didn’t watch Lost until a couple of years after it was off the air.

Don’t worry, this article doesn’t contain any spoilers.

But the moment I watched one episode of House of Cards I was hooked.  I burned through Season 1, then got through Season 2 even quicker.  For a few days I was quite literally sleep deprived.  I found myself up at 4 in the morning debating if I wanted to watch my third episode in a row.  If I had free time I tried to fit in at least one episode, but rarely watched less than two in one sitting.  I couldn’t get enough of the sociopath Frank Underwood and all of his shenanigans.  Needless to say, it didn’t take me very long to plow through all 26 episodes.

So it’s probably no surprise that I highly recommend the show to anyone who hasn’t had a chance to check it out yet.

The moment I finished the last episode of the newest season I said to myself, “Dammit, now I have to wait a whole year for Season 3!”  But I wasn’t the only one.  That’s generally the consensus I’ve picked up from everyone who likes the show.  Because it seems that I wasn’t the only one who devoured all 13 of the newest episodes as quickly as possible.

Then an interesting thought went through my mind about human nature and how, at times, we can be insatiable.

See, House of Cards is fairly unique in that it’s exclusive to Netflix.  Where the traditional television show airs weekly, forcing viewers to watch the newest season play out over weeks or months, Netflix offers all episodes of the newest season all at once.

If you like the show, you can watch it all in one day if you’ve got about 12 hours to spare.  Viewers aren’t forced to wait until the following week to watch the next episode, they can watch it as soon as the current one they’re watching ends.

As viewers, and human beings, we love it.  Nobody has to wait until next week to watch one of their favorite shows.  It’s one show after another after another like a House of Cards conveyor belt.

It’s instant gratification.

Then something interesting happens.  We complain that we have to wait a whole year for next season.  Sure, people like me could have watched one episode a week, stretching the season out over 3 months (closing the “gap” on wait times between seasons) but that’s not what a lot of people like me did.

We watched as many as we could, as fast as we could, until we got to the end.

And then we complained about it being over.

Situations similar to this are part of the reason why I don’t buy into the belief that fewer regulations are always the best answer.  I don’t believe that regulations are always the answer, but often they do serve a purpose.  It seems frequently that when human beings are left to regulate themselves, we don’t do a very good job at it.  Heck, that’s part of the reason why we have certain laws and regulations to begin with.  We wouldn’t have child labor laws or civil rights laws if people weren’t abusing the system without such protections.

History has shown that as a species, humans have very poor self-control.

Humans, when given the choice between excess or moderation, often choose excess.

Greed clearly plays a role in it.  Not saying that everyone who rushed through House of Cards is a greedy person, but they were definitely “greedy” for the satisfaction of knowing how it all played out.  We wanted the satisfaction of knowing what would happen as soon as possible, then we’re instantly let down when we realized we had exhausted our source of entertainment in the blink of an eye.

It’s like someone serving you the best steak in the world and you devour it as quickly as possible.  Instead of savoring each bite, you chop it up and inhale it in a matter of a couple of minutes.  Sure you enjoyed it, but it was gone in a flash and you now wished you hadn’t eaten it so hastily.

You especially see this in today’s modern society where people want things quick, easy and right now.  We don’t call one another anymore, we text.  If it’s longer than a short Facebook post or “tweet” we often don’t have time to read through it.

Hell, most people don’t even read articles anymore, just headlines.  I would say a good 80% of the comments on any given article I post on my Facebook page Right Off A Cliff or Forward Progressives are made by people who just read the headline – then assumed the rest of the story.

At least on my Twitter it’s understandable why responses are short.  You have a 140 character max.  It’s an entire social media platform designed to provide us short, instantaneous information from the moment we sign on.  Which, now days, is exactly what we want.

Our society is full of people who complain about the very issues we create, similar to how some of us complain over the fact we jetted through House of Cards in about 2 days and now we have to wait another 12 months before next season.

Just look at government.  Both sides go on and on about how bad government is, how nobody in Congress is worth a flip, yet incumbents have something like a 90% success rate when it comes to being re-elected.

As voters we have all the power in this country to vote in whomever we want, yet we continue to vote in a bunch of lawyers and greedy businessmen.  We rarely vote in engineers, teachers, scientists or people from professions that might actually provide some real insight to fixing some of the problems we face as a nation.

We complain about only having two parties, yet third party candidates rarely get any meaningful support.  We bellyache about “our government not listening to us,” yet when elections come around we don’t do anything about it.

While all that’s on a much more important scale than complaining about having to wait for Season 3 of House of Cards, it’s still similar in the fact that we cause a problem, then complain about that problem we caused.

There was a choice between spreading out each episode to make the season last longer so we could enjoy it over the coming weeks or flying through it to finish it as quickly as possible – and most of us chose the latter.

It’s just human nature I guess.

But in the meantime I’ll chat with a few friends about what happened on the newest season of House of Cards and “mourn” with them over the fact that because we got to the end as quickly as possible, we’re now left waiting a full year before we get to see what happens next.

Allen Clifton

Allen Clifton is a native Texan who now lives in the Austin area. He has a degree in Political Science from Sam Houston State University. Allen is a co-founder of Forward Progressives and creator of the popular Right Off A Cliff column and Facebook page. Be sure to follow Allen on Twitter and Facebook, and subscribe to his channel on YouTube as well.


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