What to Give Up for Lent 2019? Consider Twitter’s Top 100 Ideas

(UPDATED) Among abstentions the week of Ash Wednesday, food ideas are twice as popular as technology and personal habits.
What to Give Up for Lent 2019? Consider Twitter’s Top 100 Ideas
Image: elinedesignservices / iStock / Getty Images

[Updated March 13 with Stephen Smith’s final analysis]

Once again, you can follow in real time what Twitter users say they are giving up for Lent, which this year begins on Ash Wednesday, March 6.

As in 2018, food items are two to three times as popular to abstain from as technology items or personal habits, according to 44,291 tweets (excluding retweets) analyzed by OpenBible.info’s Stephen Smith during the week of Ash Wednesday 2019.

Topping the list was social networking, followed by perennial favorites alcohol, Twitter, chocolate, Lent, meat, and swearing.

“With the absence of a major political or social event, 2019 was a fairly typical year for what people said they would give up for Lent,” wrote Smith, who has tracked Lenten tweets since 2009, in his final analysis. He noted that ideas with increases this year included Brexit, depression, anxiety, and gossip.

Last year’s biggest increase was plastics, a trend reported by The Washington Post last week. This year the popularity of abstaining from plastics was relatively flat, but Smith noted its 464 tweets “almost bring it into the top ten.”

CT previously reported how LifeWay Research offered a chance to compare Twitter’s serious vs. sarcastic sharers via a 2017 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%).

Smith made a word cloud of the top 100 results of 2019:

Twitter's Top 100 Ideas for Lent 2019
Image: Stephen Smith / OpenBible.info

Twitter's Top 100 Ideas for Lent 2019

For comparison, here are the top 100 ideas of 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, and 2014.

Here are how the top 7 ideas have trended over time:

The trend line of Twitter's top 7 Lent ideas.
Image: Stephen Smith / OpenBible.info

The trend line of Twitter's top 7 Lent ideas.

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 2019, as well as their change in rank from 2018. (This list cover all tweets from March 3–9 that mention giving up something for Lent and, except as noted, excludes retweets.)

Top 100 Things Twitter Gave Up for Lent in 2019 (based on 44,291 tweets)

1. Social networking 1,529 0
2. Alcohol 1,498 +1
3. Twitter 1,409 -1
4. Chocolate 818 0
5. Lent 770 +6
6. Meat 684 0
7. Swearing 606 -2
8. Coffee 563 +1
9. Soda 561 -1
10. Sex 511 +3
11. Fast food 473 -1
12. Sweets 460 -5
13. School 414 +2
14. Men 374 +6
15. Work 367 +11
16. College 346 +9
17. Religion 346 +15
18. Bread 336 -4
19. You 327 0
20. Plastic 312 0
21. Sugar 294 0
22. Catholicism 290 +15
23. Giving up things 289 +10
24. Beer 274 -6
25. Chips 269 -9
26. Life 258 +3
27. Facebook 227 -15
28. Marijuana 224 +3
29. Brexit 212 +47
30. Boys 204 -8
31. Instagram 195 -4
32. Virginity 187 +28
33. Smoking 175 +7
34. Candy 161 -11
35. Starbucks 144 -1
36. Junk food 138 -3
37. Hope 128 +22
38. Homework 128 +8
39. Rice 127 +8
40. Breathing 125 +32
41. Cheese 122 -5
42. Donald Trump 122 +18
43. Red meat 121 -8
44. Lying 118 0
45. Food 113 +24
46. Wine 111 -5
47. Carbs 111 -6
48. Winter 110 +48
49. Fried food 109 +1
50. Masturbation 109 +6
51. Gossip 108 +41
52. Depression 105 +26
53. Anxiety 103 +30
54. Ice cream 103 -4
55. My job 103 +26
56. Him 98 +10
57. Cookies 98 -5
58. Pizza 96 -20
59. People 94 -5
60. Dairy 94 -15
61. Booze 92 -13
62. Procrastination 91 -3
63. Single use plastic 84 -10
64. Eating out 84 0
65. Liquor 81 -7
66. Juuling 80 -1
67. Boba 79 +4
68. Christianity 76 +15
69. Takeout 75 -10
70. Caffeine 75 -15
71. Shopping 74 -17
72. Negativity 73 -46
73. My will to live 69 -1
74. Sobriety 68 -16
75. Online shopping 66 -1
76. Bills 64 +19
77. French fries 64 -16
78. Lint 63 +6
79. Chick Fil A 61 -16
80. Complaining 61 -29
81. Sleep 61 -11
82. Desserts 60 -15
83. Church 60 -5
84. Coke 59 -16
85. [Expletive] 59 -6
86. Hot Cheetos 56 -25
87. Netflix 55 -25
88. God 54 -3
89. Porn 53 -24
90. Snapchat 50 -73
91. Stress 50 -3
92. Oxygen 50 +4
93. Spending 50 -3
94. Pancakes 46 -21
95. Crying 46 -1
96. Diet coke 46 -19
97. Juice 45 -15
98. Chicken 44 -19
99. Cheating 43 -19
100.
[Expletive]
43 -43

Top Categories

1. food 8,004
2. technology 3,688
3. habits 2,963
4. smoking/drugs/alcohol 2,820
5. irony 2,097
6. relationship 1,800
7. school/work 1,490
8. sex 1,164
9. religion 1,016
10. politics 440
11. generic 427
12. money 353
13. health/hygiene 348
14. entertainment 224
15. shopping 182
16. weather 171
17. sports 165
18. possessions 54
19. celebrity 24
20. clothes 16
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