Once again, you can follow in real time what Twitter users say they are giving up for Lent, which this year begins on 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 “expected relationship-related tweets to run higher than usual” because Ash Wednesday coincides with Valentine’s Day. (Also, Easter coincides with April Fools’ Day.)

“Social networking topped the [2018] list, followed by Twitter, alcohol, chocolate, and swearing,” wrote Smith in his final analysis, based on 29,609 tweets (excluding retweets). “It was a fairly typical year, with the top 5 the same as last year (though in a different order) except for swearing, which came in at No. 6 last year, behind chips.”

Here is how the top 6 ideas of 2018 have trended over time:

The trend line of Twitter's top 6 Lent ideas.
Image: OpenBible.info

The trend line of Twitter's top 6 Lent ideas.

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. In 2018, he finished No. 67.

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. In the list below of the final top 100 ideas of 2018, each link will show how that particular idea has trended over time.

For comparison, here are the top 100 ideas of 2017, 2016, 2015, and 2014, as well as a word cloud of the top ideas of 2018:

Twitter's Top 100 Ideas for Lent 2018
Image: Stephen Smith / OpenBible.info

Twitter's Top 100 Ideas for Lent 2018

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 final tally of the top 100 most-mentioned Lenten sacrifices (both serious and cynical) in 2018. (This list covers all tweets from February 11–17 that mention giving up something for Lent and, except as noted, excludes retweets.)

Top 100 Things Twitter Gave Up for Lent (based on 29,609 tweets)

Rank Word Count Change from last year’s rank
1. Social networking 1,329 +1
2. Twitter 1,215 +2
3. Alcohol 1,105 -2
4. Chocolate 1,035 -1
5. Swearing 549 +1
6. Meat 531 +6
7. Sweets 499 +3
8. Soda 441 0
9. Coffee 387 +2
10. Fast food 380 -1
11. Lent 373 +2
12. Facebook 342 +9
13. Sex 315 +6
14. Bread 267 +2
15. School 256 -8
16. Chips 222 -11
17. Snapchat 216 +34
18. Beer 193 -3
19. You 189 +1
20. Men 189 +35
21. Plastic 188 +122
22. Sugar 185 -5
23. Boys 165 +2
24. Candy 162 +7
25. Valentine’s Day 157 +130
26. Work 145 -2
27. College 145 -13
28. Negativity 144 +32
29. Instagram 143 +13
30. Guns 141 +126
31. Life 139 -13
32. Marijuana 132 +1
33. Junk food 130 -6
34. Religion 130 -8
35. Giving up things 112
36. Starbucks 111 -2
37. Red meat 108 +12
38. Cheese 106 -6
39. Catholicism 105 -4
40. Pizza 104 -11
41. Smoking 100 -11
42. Love 100 +96
43. Wine 93 -3
44. Carbs 91 0
45. Me 89 -7
46. Fortnite 87
47. Lying 84 +25
48. Dairy 81 +13
49. Homework 78 -21
50. Rice 77 -7
51. Booze 76 +12
52. Fried food 75 -7
53. Ice cream 74 -17
54. Complaining 72 +14
55. Cookies 69 -18
56. Single use plastic 68 +100
57. Shopping 68 -11
58. People 66 -11
59. Caffeine 65 +11
60. Stuff 60 -10
61. Masturbation 59 +3
62. Liquor 58 -5
63. F***boys 58 -24
64. Takeout 57 -4
65. Sobriety 57 -9
66. Hope 57 -43
67. Donald Trump 56 -46
68. Procrastination 56 -13
69. Virginity 55 -21
70. McDonald’s 55 -8
71. Hot Cheetos 55 -5
72. French fries 53 -20
73. Netflix 53 -8
74. Fizzy drinks 49 +3
75. Chick Fil A 48 +4
76. Eating out 48 -10
77. Makeup 47 -32
78. Porn 47 +21
79. Myself 45 -3
80. Juuling 45
81. Him 44 -7
82. Pasta 44 -3
83. Desserts 41 -14
84. Food 40 -25
85. Coke 40 -14
86. Pork 39 +17
87. Dating 38 +23
88. Mass shootings 38
89. Sleep 38 -16
90. Breathing 37 -47
91. Boba 37 +3
92. Being single 36 +22
93. Cake 36 -6
94. My will to live 36 -36
95. Pancakes 36 -15
96. The presidency 35 -43
97. Online shopping 32 -15
98. Tea 31 +10
99. Brexit 30 +27
100. This 30 -5
101. TV 30 -5

Top Categories

Rank Category Number of Tweets
1. food 6,702
2. technology 3,556
3. habits 2,034
4. smoking/drugs/alcohol 2,027
5. relationship 1,339
6. irony 946
7. school/work 714
8. sex 568
9. religion 404
10. politics 252
11. generic 224
12. possessions 155
13. entertainment 149
14. shopping 147
15. health/hygiene 125
16. money 94
17. sports 53
18. weather 21
19. clothes 14
October
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