I'm A Periscope Addict, But My Need To Live-Stream Is Hurting My Relationship

by Mandy Stadtmiller

I am an exhibitionist. I write about my life, I podcast about my life, and I document my life on social media in pretty much every medium possible.

So it's no surprise that Periscope, Twitter's trendy live-stream service that allows anyone to turn his or her life into a reality show, is basically my crack.

There's only one problem: I'm not single anymore. And here's what I've discovered about being coupled up: That kind of exhibitionism stops being cute, like, real fast.

I've been exclusive with the same guy since March, and we just got married in November. Periscope became popular right around the time we started getting serious. If you're not familiar with the app, which Twitter purchased in 2015, it allows anyone to live-stream straight from his or her mobile device, and then viewers can send real-time feedback by giving hearts and sending comments.

My husband pretty much tolerates my obsession with it. In fact, I'm so into Periscope that when we got engaged and married, my partner incorporated Periscope into the acts, allowing our friends and family to watch both around the world.

He proposed in Times Square, and it was announced in the Daily News ahead of time so people could watch. And the wedding was at Gotham Comedy Club, which was also announced before the event so people could tune in.

For both, we had a friend hold one of our phones up so the video could stream out to the world as the events unfolded. I didn't look back to watch either because I didn't want to spoil my own perfect memory of it, but I did read all the beautiful comments and emails people sent me about how they laughed and cried and were grateful to share the events with us in real time.

Except, after the wedding, more and more frequently, I noticed a problematic pattern emerging with our Periscopes that ended with both of us totally annoyed with one another. It usually went down like this:

Part One: “Let's Periscope,” I would suggest, and my partner would agree to jump on and see who was out there with me.

Part Two: Things would be fine, and sometimes even fun as we talked and joked about whatever we felt like.

Part Three: And then, just like that, the other shoe would drop and sh*t would suddenly go bad.

This would happen because one of a few different scenarios occurred:

(A): Some commenter would say something irritating like “I want to take you on a date!” Instead of ignoring that commenter, I would find myself responding. There's a saying in performing that you always acknowledge what is happening in order to be in the moment, and I suppose that's where I was coming from. But trust me: It's never a good idea to feed the troll.

(B): I would find myself doing the equivalent of saying, “Dance monkey, dance” to my dude until eventually he would look at me like I really might think he is simian. He's a stand-up comedian, and I would want him to talk about different shows he had coming up, and basically make me and the viewing audience laugh on command like he was a show pony. Apparently this is annoying?

(C): I would get distracted by a shiny object (or person) who walked into frame, essentially abandoning him. Meaning: If we were hanging out at a club and somebody else jumped into the frame, I would gravitate toward him or her and pull the broadcast away from the two of us, right after begging him to do it with me in the first place.

(D): I would make one of the little irritating digs that I think are funny (“Don't you think this is fun?” “I like that big word you used!” “C'mon, talk to that person!”), but he does not think are funny. Except now, instead of being a private annoyance, it's being broadcast to strangers the world over.

(E): I become all about getting those hearts and approval, and I act like a fake preening weirdo.

Part Four: We end the Periscope. We're both peeved.

Until…weeks pass, and I forget all about the fight, and I think, “Oh that was probably just an exception,” and then it's back to Step One again.

The thing is -- I'm not on a reality show nor am I a webcam girl nor do strangers have some God-given right to see into my relationship's most intimate moments (even when I think something is just oh-so hilarious that the world simply cannot be denied this level of joy).

These are important factors to remember. Which is why it didn't really surprise the other day when I was trying to get my husband to live-stream, and he said to me:  “I wish Periscope had never been invented. Just hearing the word 'Periscope' irritates me.”

I suppose this might be what you'd call the tipping point. (The Scoping Point?)

Maybe because I am already such an exhibitionist, both in my writing and my personality, I don't really need any more reason to push my limits of oversharing to the world. Meaning: Just because you CAN do something doesn't necessarily mean that you SHOULD. Or that it will be good for your relationship.

I've asked several friends who are also in relationships if Periscope has led to any fights between them, and I was told by almost all of them that similar small annoyances that normally wouldn't be a big deal become overblown and get revisited again and again and again.

The ability to “go to the tape” is not a positive thing.

It reminds me of a particularly great episode of the dark sci-fi British series “Black Mirror” where in the future, it's possible to keep a video memory of everything that's ever happened to you. (When they show a couple having sex, both of them are revisiting different video clips in their brains from past encounters.) And even earlier, “Chappelle's Show” famously featured the “home stenographer” sketch where a couple's every moment was recorded so that either party could ask to have something read back to dispute some small point in a spat.

On the bright side, the fights we've had (after the stream ends) over Periscope have helped me realize that maybe it's not the live-streaming service that is causing the fights, it's the behavior itself.

Because we've analyzed this many times, and what I've realized is that I have this terrible habit wherein, like a person under a trance, I have a predisposition toward making things worse if I've made them just a little bad at all.

“This is fun, right? You're having fun? Isn't this fun?” I once repeatedly asked my husband when he pretty clearly wanted no part of the Periscope. It was like I was a Real Housewife who thought that maybe if I verbally denied the awkward train wreck unfolding, I could somehow change that reality.

It's like picking at a scab. Will this help? Nope. Never does.

So perhaps there is a silver lining in the Great Periscope Relationship Wars of 2016 currently happening between boyfriends and girlfriends everywhere. The irritation that comes with the act of live-streaming may never go away, but if you're smart, you'll take this opportunity to learn what behavior is causing the spats in the first place.

Then, when your broadcast isn't turned on, if you're smart, you can take some of those bad habits you've observed -- and learn how to stop turning your partner off.