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What to Give Up for Lent 2018? Consider Twitter’s Top 100 Ideas

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What to Give Up for Lent 2018? Consider Twitter's Top 100 Ideas

SOURCE:  Christianity Today

Once again, you can follow in real time what Twitter users say they are giving up for Lent, which this year begins Wednesday, February 14.

Last year, food items were three times as popular to abstain from as technology items or personal habits,according to 73,334 tweets analyzed by OpenBible.info’s Stephen Smith during the week of Ash Wednesday 2017. Alcohol ranked No. 1 for the first time since his project began in 2009.

This year, the creator of the Twitter Lent Tracker says he “expect[s] relationship-related tweets to run higher than usual” because Ash Wednesday coincides with Valentine’s Day. (Also, Easter coincides with April Fools’ Day.)

Smith was most curious last year about how high Donald Trump would rank among perennial favorites such as social networking, alcohol, and chocolate. The President ended up finishing No. 22 in 2017, up from No. 82 in 2016.

Meanwhile, LifeWay Research offered a chance to compare Twitter’s serious vs. sarcastic sharers last year via its study on what Americans who observe the Lenten season before Easter say they actually give up.

Of note: 3 in 10 Americans with evangelical beliefs (28%) say they observe Lent; of these, 42 percent typically fast from a favorite food or beverage while 71 percent typically attend church services.

Catholics remain the most likely to observe Lent (61%), with 2 out of 3 fasting from a favorite food or beverage (64%).

Overall, 1 in 4 Americans observes Lent (24%), according to LifeWay. Most American observers fast from a favorite food or beverage (57%) vs. a bad habit (35%) or a favorite activity (23%).

Hispanics were the most likely ethnic group to observe Lent (36%), and were more likely than whites to abstain from a favorite activity (34% vs. 17%) or a bad habit (50% vs. 30%).

In 2014, Barna Group found that 17 percent of US adults planned to fast during Lent, including 63 percent of practicing Catholics and 16 percent of practicing Protestants. Most were giving up a food item, including chocolate (30%), meat (28%), soda (26%), or alcohol (24%).

Twitter’s top five Lenten choices have proven consistently popular since Smith began tracking Lent in 2009. Here is how the top 5 ideas of 2017 have trended:

How the top 5 Twitter ideas of 2017 have trended since 2009. (Note: 2018 data is not yet complete.)

Image: OpenBible.info

How the top 5 Twitter ideas of 2017 have trended since 2009. (Note: 2018 data is not yet complete.)

Smith charts different trends over time, such as this attempt to track the “seven deadly sins”:

The Twitter Lent Tracker's trend line from 2009 to 2017. (Note: 2018 data is not complete yet.)

Image: OpenBible.info

The Twitter Lent Tracker’s trend line from 2009 to 2017. (Note: 2018 data is not complete yet.)

For comparison, here are the top 100 ideas of 201720162015, and 2014, as well as a word cloud of last year’s top ideas:

Twitter's top 100 ideas of 2017.

Image: Stephen Smith / OpenBible.info

Twitter’s top 100 ideas of 2017.

CT regularly reports on Lent, including three views on why bother celebrating Lent, the best books to read for Lent, Lent in Narnia, and the argument for lengthening Lent. CT editor-in-chief Mark Galli offered his thoughts on “giving up self discipline” for Lent.

Below is Smith’s running tally of the top 100 most-mentioned Lenten sacrifices (both serious and cynical) in 2018. (This list will eventually cover all tweets from February 11–17 that mention giving up something for Lent and, except as noted, excludes retweets.)

TOP 100 THINGS (1,859 TWEETS, 11:45 A.M. FEB. 12)

Rank What Number of Tweets
1. social networking 132
2. alcohol 111
3. twitter 87
4. chocolate 73
5. meat 44
6. negativity 35
7. snapchat 28
8. soda 23
9. swearing 23
10. coffee 22
11. sweets 20
12. fast food 20
13. bread 19
14. men 18
15. boys 17
16. sugar 17
17. sex 16
18. school 16
19. facebook 15
20. lent 11
21. you 10
22. marijuana 9
23. red meat 9
24. chips 9
25. smoking 9
26. junk food 8
27. instagram 7
28. dairy 7
29. booze 7
30. beer 7
31. religion 6
32. college 6
33. cheese 6
34. takeout 6
35. carbs 6
36. rice 6
37. candy 6
38. starbucks 6
39. pizza 5
40. mcdonalds 5
41. giving up things 5
42. catholicism 5
43. shopping 5
44. him 4
45. hope 4
46. tacos 4
47. complaining 4
48. fizzy drinks 4
49. potatoes 4
50. netflix 4
51. my phone 4
52. lint 4
53. french fries 4
54. sleep 4
55. wine 4
56. pork 4
57. relationships 4
58. boba 4
59. depression 4
60. dating 4
61. love 4
62. everything 3
63. going out 3
64. pasta 3
65. chick fil a 3
66. desserts 3
67. coke 3
68. caffeine 3
69. plastic 3
70. stuff 3
71. drpepper 3
72. liquor 3
73. my job 3
74. self doubt 3
75. ice cream 3
76. porn 3
77. virginity 3
78. church 3
79. work 3
80. me 3
81. brexit 3
82. life 3
83. online shopping 3
84. masturbation 2
85. hard liquor 2
86. spending 2
87. energy drinks 2
88. drunk texting 2
89. cake 2
90. uber 2
91. feelings 2
92. procrastination 2
93. new years resolutions 2
94. being broke 2
95. tv 2
96. winter 2
97. fried food 2
98. so much 2
99. chipotle 2
100. laziness 2

TOP CATEGORIES

Rank Category Number of Tweets
1. food 404
2. technology 292
3. smoking/drugs/alcohol 157
4. habits 115
5. relationship 79
6. irony 35
7. school/work 31
8. sex 29
9. religion 23
10. generic 13
11. entertainment 12
12. shopping 11
13. health/hygiene 11

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