donate to our end of year fundraiser <3

Give a Dog a Bone

at the risk of being foolishly optimistic, I am adding social media to my list of spiritual practices.

By Margaret Davenport 


While sipping tequila sodas in a sports bar with a potential Catholic Priest (he’s “figuring it out”), I realized, for a self-considered spiritual person, I’m not really good at practicing worship. I do have an active spiritual life. I read tarot, meditate, go for walks, dance in my kitchen, watch good movies, leave silly voicemails, and cry (frequently) to my sister on the phone. These are all inherently spiritual experiences to me. To remind myself that I exist, so incredibly intertwined with the world around me, is how I host religion in my life. But recently, I am so focused on how to share every experience I have through writing, posting, and storytelling that I can’t remember how to just exist.

I created my Instagram in 2012. I had heard about the app on Tumblr, so I painstakingly downloaded every single picture of One Direction I had reblogged and uploaded them to my new platform. I had turned to Tumblr for a community, but I was trying out Instagram for an audience. When all of my real-life friends caught onto the social media trend, I went back and, one by one, deleted every One Direction picture before accepting followers. Then I posted a picture of my cat next to a stack of books and a cup of tea with the caption, “Simple Saturdays #kittielove #tea #bookworm.” To this day, I’ve only read four of the 15 books pictured.

I should have seen this as a precursor to what I’ve become: a performer, comedian, writer. Someone who is comforted at my lowest point by the thought, “This will be a great story.” I stayed at an emotionally abusive job for seven long months because it at least had the benefit of enough stories to entertain any dinner table. I am obsessed with the audience in my life: Instagram, COPY, improv shows, dinner tables, myself as I journal and then read the journals out loud in a quiet room. I’m not always writing about myself. Most of the time, I’m narrating everything I’ve seen in a day. The man experiencing homelessness buying $10 milk at Whole Foods. Which neighborhoods lost power in our summer heat wave. Seeing Harry Styles with my childhood best friend at Madison Square Garden—a moment we’ve waited a decade for and yet, while at the concert, I kept thinking about what my “New York City Trip” Instagram caption would be. I do this a lot: think about Instagram captions. For a decade, every beautiful sight I’ve seen has been accompanied by questioning which few words could describe it in a trendy yet unique way.

As much as I don’t enjoy my constant impulse to repackage every personal experience as a shared experience, I’m exhausted from beating myself up over it. I most likely suffer from a social media addiction. I think we all probably do. But I’ve always been a performer. Before I knew social media existed, I was climbing on a stage every chance I got. Even if I gave up social media or writing, I would still be doing a one-woman show for every coffee shop barista I encounter. So, at the risk of being foolishly optimistic, I am working on redesigning my relationship with the audience in my life by adding social media to my list of spiritual practices. My first effort in this is to attempt to be as honest as possible when I write and post. It makes sharing my thoughts online feel less like a race to keep up with the modern world and more like giving a small bone to a big dog.

Tonight I was driving in my neighborhood when the sunset turned everything a dusty orange color. I felt like I was living in vibrant sepia tone. The moment wasn’t remarkable, but it was kind. The sky changed the color of the whole world and we were all just carrying on. I parked my car and took a picture for my Instagram Story. My neighbor was talking to his mother. I went inside and lit a pine-scented candle in my living room. I existed in my home and on your phone and I didn’t think too much about any of it at all.

Photo taken by me