Every year, millions of people around the world give up a vice or a luxury as a form of penitence during the 40-day period of Lent that culminates on Easter Sunday. For many of them, this observance is a profound and meaningful part of practicing their Christian faith. For others, it is just another tradition, a rite of spring that gives them something to laugh and joke and talk about. For the past four years, Stephen Smith of openbible.info has used a Twitter application programming interface (API) to see what people said they are giving up for Lent. As you might expect, there is a mix of the divine (swearing off being mean is No. 93, forsaking negativity is No. 96) and the diabolical (surrendering religion at No. 24, abandoning Christianity at No. 77) in Smith's data. Still, it provides an interesting look at what Twitterites are saying they are giving up for Lent.
Specific meats come later in the list, including red meat (No. 43), chicken (No. 70), pork (No. 76) and bacon (No. 92). For some, it was just easier to give up food (No. 22) and eating (No. 97) altogether.
Also climbing into the Top 10 after coming in at No. 11 last year. Add in candy (No. 16), cookies (No. 31), ice cream (No. 33), desserts (No. 45) and sugar (No. 48) and what do you have left? Nothing (No. 41).
Insert your own comment here.
This is up three places from its No. 10 finish last year. Either people are becoming more health conscious, or the high price of gasoline is leaving them little leftover cash for hamburgers and fries.
This was No. 2 last year. "Has it become less central to people's lives?" Smith asks. And in case you were wondering, Pinterest didn't even make the top 100 – it came in at No. 118.
"I drink soda a lot," said one 10th grader in the Biloxi, Miss., Sun Herald, "and I believe that it will be a good idea to try and go without it for a period of time to see if I will be able to go without it altogether."
People have been giving up booze for Lent for as long as there has been a Lent. One pundit said, "Every year it's the same thing. I give up drinking for Lent, and then on St. Patrick's Day, I give up Lent."
"Habits" is the second highest-ranking category on this Lenten list, and swearing is the first bad habit people want to give up. Smoking is at No. 19.
This is the first of dozens of food-related references to make the top 100 list. In fact, if you were ranking all of the individual references categorically, food would be No. 1 by a significant margin.
Somehow it makes social networking sense that the first thing Twitter users want to give up for Lent is Twitter. This is probably especially true of athletic coaches, who wish their players would give up on Tweeting permanently.