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What Twitterers Are Giving up for Lent (2015 Edition)

Saturday, February 21st, 2015

The top 100 things that people on Twitter are giving up for Lent in 2015.

“School” once again tops the list of things Twitterers are giving up for Lent, with over 5% of tweets mentioning it. This year’s list is quite stable compared to last year’s, especially in the top ten.

My hypothesis last year was that “school” was so high because Ash Wednesday coincided with spring break at many schools, but that isn’t the case this year. In the UK, A-Level exams are coming up at the beginning of March, so that may be part of it.

Another surprise for me this year, given the cold weather gripping the northeastern United States, is that weather-related tweets aren’t more popular; as a category, they move up one place from last year (to #12 from #13), though individually “snow” moves up eight places and “cold weather” moves up 79 places.

Hot Cheetos continue their run, making the top 100 for the first time.

The biggest surprise to me is #12, f***boys. I wasn’t familiar with this term before, and I’m still not totally sure what it means. Knowyourmeme.com says that it’s “used as a pejorative toward men who are perceived as oversexed or disrespectful toward women,” while also serving as a meme involving skeletons on Tumblr. It’s easily the biggest gainer this year.

This list draws from 409,000 tweets during February 14 to 21 that mention giving up something for Lent and, except as noted, excludes retweets.

Rank Word Count Change from last year’s rank
1. School 6,281 0
2. Chocolate 4,293 0
3. Twitter 3,876 0
4. Alcohol 3,216 +1
5. Social networking 3,090 +2
6. Swearing 2,887 -2
7. Soda 2,473 -1
8. Sweets 2,122 0
9. Fast food 2,056 0
10. Coffee 1,706 +4
11. College 1,631 +27
12. F***boys 1,527  
13. You 1,462 +5
14. Lent 1,348 -4
15. Meat 1,335 -4
16. Homework 1,208 -4
17. Sex 1,165 -2
18. Junk food 1,112 -5
19. Pizza 1,067 +1
20. Bread 1,060 -3
21. Chips 905 -5
22. Facebook 853 -3
23. Boys 665 +6
24. Candy 625 -2
25. Netflix 610 +12
26. Religion 602 -2
27. Beer 596 +5
28. Starbucks 591 -7
29. Work 575 -2
30. Sugar 565 +15
31. Instagram 554 -8
32. Ice cream 520 -4
33. Life 489 0
34. Winter 454 +2
35. Smoking 441 -4
36. Wine 435 +13
37. Me 434 +10
38. Cookies 430 -12
39. Chipotle 422 +4
40. Snapchat 408 +16
41. Feelings 393 +27
42. Marijuana 381 -12
43. Shopping 374 -3
44. Rice 357 +10
45. My phone 351 -6
45. Virginity 351 -21
46. Catholicism 337 +9
47. Food 329 -13
48. Cheese 315 -2
49. Stuff 307 -8
50. McDonald’s 300 -15
51. Carbs 295 -1
52. Snow 284 +8
53. Desserts 276 +8
54. French fries 257 +9
55. People 248 +4
56. Coke 245 +1
57. Fried food 242 -5
58. Red meat 237 +14
59. Masturbation 233 -15
60. Selfies 230 -18
61. Hope 224 +23
61. Sobriety 224 -14
62. Procrastination 219 -4
63. Complaining 216 +14
64. Makeup 214 +2
64. Caffeine 214 -12
65. Booze 211 +17
65. Negativity 211 +5
66. Takeout 210 -2
67. Eating out 184 +22
68. Cake 183 +17
69. Chick Fil A 179 +31
70. Obama 178 -5
71. Fizzy drinks 175 -9
72. Porn 173 -4
73. Diet Coke 172 0
74. Pancakes 159 +5
75. Breathing 158 0
76. Classes 157 +55
77. Sleep 156 +6
78. Peanut butter 152 +2
79. Cold weather 151 +79
80. Hot Cheetos 145 +25
81. Liquor 144 +13
82. Tea 143 -4
83. Dunkin Donuts 138 +27
84. Taco Bell 137 -17
85. Men 135 +21
86. Sarcasm 133 -12
87. Winning 127 +32
88. Online shopping 126 +19
89. Sweet tea 125 -8
90. Caring 124 -14
91. Pasta 123 -5
92. Naps 122 +23
93. Juice 117 +5
94. Nothing 115 -25
94. A levels 115 +37
94. Being mean 115 +4
95. Him 113 +22
96. New Year’s resolutions 112 +34
97. My swag 111 -27
97. Gluten 111 +4
98. Exercise 110 -8
98. Church 110 -4
99. My boyfriend 109 +2
100. Dairy 106 +26

Including Retweets

If we include retweets, here are the top ten things given up this year. It’s somewhat different:

Rank Word Count Difference from non-retweet rank
1. School 38,532 0
2. College 17,615 +9
3. F***boys 6,461 +9
4. Chocolate 5,127 -2
5. Twitter 5,074 -2
6. Alcohol 4,427 -2
7. Social networking 3,968 -2
8. Swearing 3,534 -2
9. Obama 3,351 +61
10. You 2,940 +3
11. Soda 2,820 -4
12. Coffee 2,506 -2
13. Sweets 2,499 -5
14. Homework 2,456 +2
15. Fast food 2,356 -6

Second-Wave Social Media

Has Instagram peaked?

Instagram, Snapchat, Tumblr, Tinder, Vine, WhatsApp.

Fast Food

Chipotle passes McDonald’s this year. Chick Fil A passes Taco Bell, and Whataburger continues its rise.

McDonald's, Chiptole, Taco Bell, Chick Fil A, Dunkin Donuts, Whataburger, In N Out, Domino's, and KFC.

Snack Foods

Hot Cheetos are still on the move.

Hot Cheetos, popcorn, Doritos, potato chips, Cheetos

TV vs. Netflix

As TV declines, Netflix rises.

TV, Netflix

Categories

Rank Category Number of Tweets
1. food 30,148
2. school/work 10,819
3. technology 9,277
4. habits 8,057
5. smoking/drugs/alcohol 6,230
6. relationship 4,229
7. irony 2,978
8. sex 2,274
9. health/hygiene 1,601
10. religion 1,470
11. entertainment 1,069
12. weather 986
13. generic 834
14. shopping 685
15. sports 410
16. money 276
17. politics 216
18. clothes 174
19. celebrity 165
20. possessions 83

Media Coverage

The Lent Tracker received some media attention this year. In roughly chronological order:

  1. What is Lent and when does it start? (Bath Chronicle)
  2. Will millions of Christians give up Facebook and Twitter for Lent? (MarketWatch)
  3. Top things Twitter users are ‘giving up’ for Lent (AZ Central. It even has a video.)
  4. Chocolate or Facebook – what will you be giving up this Ash Wednesday for Lent? (Irish Central)
  5. 7 Ideas to Give Up For Lent (or just because) (North DelaWHERE Happening)
  6. Top 10 Things People Will Be Giving Up For Lent, According to Twitter (97.3 The Dawg)
  7. What To Give Up for Lent? Twitter Reveals Top 100 Ideas of 2015 (Christianity Today)
  8. Here’s What People On Twitter Say They’re Giving Up For Lent (Time)
  9. What do Twitter users say they’re giving up for Lent? (KWWL)
  10. The Alpha and Omega of Lent: 5 FAQs on Ash Wednesday (AL.com)
  11. Chocolate, smoking, fast food: What are you giving up for Lent? (New Orleans Times-Picayune)
  12. Here’s What People on Twitter Say They’re Giving Up For Lent (Ryot News + Action)
  13. When is Lent 2015 and what should I give up? (Lincolnshire Echo)
  14. What people are giving up for Lent, as told to Twitter (Washington Post. I actually spoke to this reporter.)
  15. School and chocolate top list of what Twitter users are giving up for Lent (Kansas City Star)

Track in Real Time What People Are Giving Up for Lent in 2015

Monday, February 16th, 2015

See the top 100 things people are giving up in 2015 for Lent on Twitter, continually updated until February 21, 2015. You can also use the Historical Lent Tracker to see trends since 2009, though 2015 is still in flux, so I wouldn’t draw any conclusions (except maybe relating to Hot Cheetos–I seriously don’t understand that one) until the end of the week.

As I write this post, with about 4,000 tweets analyzed, perennial favorites “alcohol,” “chocolate,” and “social networking” lead the list. Given winter weather conditions in the eastern U.S., I expect that snow- and winter-related tweets will be popular this year.

Look for the usual post-mortem on February 21, 2015.

What Twitterers Are Giving up for Lent (2014 Edition)

Saturday, March 8th, 2014

The top 100 things that people on Twitter are giving up for Lent in 2014.

This year, “School” topped the list of things Twitterers are giving up for Lent, up 44 places from last year. Remaining in the top ten from last year are Swearing, Alcohol, Soda, Social Networking, and Fast Food. Chocolate, Twitter, Sweets, and Lent round out the new additions to the top ten.

I don’t have a great explanation for why School is #1 this year–it could be that Ash Wednesday is later this year, so spring break is closer (for some it even starts today). It’s also possible that Twitter’s audience is skewing younger than it used to, or that younger Twitter users are more likely to tweet about Lent.

Timely topics this year are Boosie, referring to rapper Lil Boosie, who was released from prison this week (people joked that the prison was giving him up for Lent); and Electricity, referring to a widespread power outage in South Africa.

This list draws from 646,000 tweets during March 2 to 8 that mention giving up something for Lent and excludes retweets.

Rank Word Count Change from last year’s rank
1. School 11,757 +44
2. Chocolate 9,515 +15
3. Twitter 8,642 +8
4. Swearing 7,132 -2
5. Alcohol 6,325 0
6. Soda 5,446 -3
7. Social networking 4,197 -3
8. Sweets 4,188 +8
9. Fast food 4,088 0
10. Lent 2,842 +118
11. Meat 2,790 +26
12. Homework 2,760 +61
13. Junk food 2,723 +8
14. Coffee 2,678 +123
15. Sex 2,392 +112
16. Chips 2,129 -10
17. Bread 2,020 +114
18. You 2,016 +21
19. Facebook 1,926 0
20. Pizza 1,628 +122
21. Starbucks 1,566 +120
22. Candy 1,412 +87
23. Instagram 1,212 -13
24. Religion 1,147 +104
25. Virginity 1,143 -18
26. Cookies 1,053 -14
27. Work 1,031 +4
28. Ice cream 1,025 +27
29. Boys 1,021 +99
30. Marijuana 1,018 -22
31. Smoking 994 -9
32. Beer 939 +104
33. Life 933 -8
34. Food 930 +27
35. McDonalds 926 +20
36. Winter 853  
37. Netflix 851 -7
38. College 819 +16
39. My phone 777 +6
40. Shopping 748 +103
41. Stuff 733 +100
42. Selfies 731 +1
43. Chipotle 726 +100
44. Masturbation 725 -30
45. Sugar 682 +82
46. Cheese 670 +94
47. Me 656 +87
48. Sobriety 655 -17
49. Wine 652 +94
50. Carbs 648 +81
51. Boosie 581  
52. Fried food 574 -23
53. Caffeine 563 +70
54. Rice 562 +86
55. Catholicism 561 -28
56. Snapchat 543 +11
57. Coke 541 -22
58. Procrastination 517 -18
59. People 516 +54
60. Snow 506  
61. Desserts 486 -37
62. Fizzy drinks 480 +81
63. French fries 475 -29
64. Takeout 464 -49
65. Obama 452 +74
66. Makeup 451 -25
67. Taco Bell 434 +39
68. Feelings 434 -32
68. Porn 430  
69. Nothing 427 +74
70. My swag 420 -47
71. Negativity 417 +28
72. Red meat 396 +59
73. Diet Coke 390 +69
74. Sarcasm 380  
75. Breathing 369  
76. Caring 357 +66
77. Complaining 354  
78. Tea 352 +64
79. Pancakes 340 +63
80. Peanut butter 336  
81. Sweet tea 335  
82. Booze 325 +61
83. Sleep 320 +33
84. Hope 316 +46
85. Cake 313 -13
86. Pasta 303 +57
87. TV 302 +30
88. Texting 297 +52
89. Eating out 275 -29
90. Exercise 274 -47
91. Pants 270 +5
92. Electricity 268 +41
93. The gym 258 +16
94. Liquor 245  
95. Church 243 -46
96. Tinder 237 +35
97. Tumblr 236 +46
98. Math 236 +20
98. Juice 232 +35
99. Being mean 230  
100. Chick Fil A 228 -38

Categories

Rank Category Number of Tweets
1. food 62,453
2. school/work 18,148
3. technology 17,615
4. habits 16,616
5. smoking/drugs/alcohol 12,665
6. irony 7,319
7. relationship 6,563
8. sex 5,483
9. health/hygiene 3,476
10. religion 2,784
11. generic 2,504
12. entertainment 1,959
13. weather 1,496
14. shopping 1,183
15. celebrity 961
16. sports 780
17. politics 547
18. clothes 540
19. money 492
20. habit 393
21. possessions 217
22. clothing 62

Historical Trends

This year I added a new Historical Lent Tracker that you can use to investigate Lenten trends on your own over the past six years.

Here are some of my favorite graphs:

Second-Wave Social Media

Tumblr peaked in 2011, and WhatsApp, which Facebook recently paid $19 billion for, doesn’t register highly.

Instagram is highest, followed by Snapchat, Tumblr, Tinder, and Whatsapp

Fast Food Restaurants

Chipotle is much higher on the list than I expected–is that because people love it or because they hate it?

McDonald's is highest, followed by Chipotle, Taco Bell, Chick-Fil-A, Dunkin Donuts, Whataburger, KFC, and Subway.

One Direction vs. Justin Bieber

One Direction has been outpacing Justin Bieber since 2012.

Snack Foods

Congratulations, Hot Cheetos, on being the snack the most people want to give up.

Hot Cheetos is highest, followed by popcorn, Doritos, potato chips, and Cheetos.

Media Coverage

The Lent Tracker got some media attention this year. In roughly chronological order:

Finally, this Wall Street Journal article doesn’t talk about the Lent tracker, but it discusses the fraught phenomenon of Ash Wednesday selfies: Selfies Bring Ashtags to Lent. (This article may or may not be behind a paywall for you.)

Track What People Are Giving Up in 2014 for Lent in Real Time

Monday, March 3rd, 2014

See the top 100 things people are giving up in 2014 for Lent on Twitter, continually updated until March 7, 2014.

As I write this post, with about 5,000 tweets analyzed, the new hot topics so far this year are: “Netflix,” “Flappy Bird,” and “Getting an Oscar.” “Social Networking” is currently way out in front, with twice as many tweets as perennial favorites “Swearing” and “Alcohol.” (Last year, Social Networking came in at #4.)

Look for the usual post-mortem on March 8, 2014.

What Twitterers Are Giving up for Lent (2013 Edition)

Saturday, February 16th, 2013

The top 100 things that people on Twitter are giving up for Lent in 2013.

This year saw a lot of churn in the top 100 things people were giving up for Lent.

The pope announced his resignation on Monday, leading many to say that he was giving up “being pope” for Lent. It came in at #1. (Related, at #18, people said they were giving up “the pope” for Lent.)

Specific social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook generally dropped this year, with the generic term “social networking” (#4) taking over as a catchall. Instagram (#10), Pinterest (#52), and Snapchat (#78) were all new to the top 100.

With Valentine’s Day falling on the day after Ash Wednesday this year, it came in at #13. My wife suggests that the timing may also have contributed to the drop in “chocolate” from #2 last year to #17 this year. “Valentines” is #97.

“Horse meat” (#20) refers to the ongoing European scandal.

The only celebrity to make the list was British boy band One Direction, up substantially at #41.

I learned several new words this year: “twerking” (#34), a type of dance move, “selfies” (#46), or self-shot photos taken with a phone, “subtweeting” (#57), or tweeting about someone without mentioning them by name, “oomf” (#71), or “one of my [Twitter] followers,” and “Nando’s” (#76), a chicken restaurant.

This list draws from 263,000 tweets from February 10-15, 2013, and excludes most retweets.

Rank Word Count Change from last year’s rank
1. Being pope 5,654  
2. Swearing 4,944 +1
3. Soda 2,648 +2
4. Social networking 2,264 +19
5. Alcohol 2,217 -1
6. Chips 1,690 +8
7. Virginity 933 +23
8. Marijuana 784 +17
9. Fast food 776 -2
10. Instagram 755 +270
11. Twitter 672 -10
12. Cookies 643 +19
13. Valentine’s day 514  
14. Masturbation 510 +18
15. Takeout 465 +59
16. Sweets 444 -7
17. Chocolate 417 -15
18. The pope 394 +10,224
19. Facebook 380 -13
20. Horse meat 375  
21. Junk food 362 -8
22. Smoking 355 -3
23. My swag 331 +373
24. Desserts 325 +21
25. Life 325 +40
26. New year’s resolutions 313 +47
27. My boyfriend 309 +99
28. Catholicism 255 +11
29. Straightening my hair 228 +89
30. Fried food 225 +5
31. Netflix 216 +255
32. Work 216 -5
33. Sobriety 213 +4
34. Twerking 185 +698
35. The playoffs 184 +3,556
36. French fries 173 +19
37. Coke 168 +1
38. Feelings 168 +207
39. Laziness 160 +28
40. Meat 158 -30
41. Onedirection 155 +103
42. You 154 -24
43. Procrastination 153 +1
44. Makeup 150 +16
45. Internet 149 +61
46. Selfies 149 +2,328
47. Exercise 144 +58
48. School 141 -36
49. My phone 135 +15
50. Classes 129 +84
51. Dip 127 +132
52. Pinterest 125 +133
53. Church 124 +33
54. Emotions 122 +397
55. Going to school 119 +163
56. My girlfriend 111 +207
57. Subtweeting 110 +253
58. College 106 +5
59. My face 106 +4,168
60. Ice cream 106 -27
61. McDonald’s 102 -32
62. Being ugly 101 +256
63. Snacking 99 +19
64. Spending 96 +89
65. Dunkin Donuts 96 +475
66. Chew 95 +418
67. Eating out 94 +28
68. Elevators 94 +99
69. Food 93 -47
70. Moaning 93 +123
71. Oomf 93 +78
72. Chick Fil A 90 +135
73. Healthy food 88 +180
74. Football 87 +145
75. Swimming 87 +200
76. Nando’s 86 +72
77. DVDs 84 +1,326
78. Snapchat 84  
79. Broccoli 83 +206
80. Ranch 81 +250
81. The snooze button 80 +176
82. Crystal meth 80 +219
83. Dignity 79 +116
84. Cake 77 -13
85. Unhealthy food 77 +34
86. Homework 76 -65
87. Busyness 75  
88. Schoolwork 74 +88
89. Chemistry 74 +34,949
90. Frozen yogurt 72 +480
91. iPhone 72 +100
92. FIFA 71 +143
93. Betting 70 +315
94. Doing homework 69 +158
95. Myself 68 +267
96. Supermarkets 67 +1,797
97. Valentines 66  
98. Domino’s 63 +323
99. Being negative 63 +212
100. Hookah 63 +340

Categories

Rank Category Number of Tweets
1. food 11,642
2. habits 8,083
3. religion 6,519
4. technology 4,782
5. smoking/drugs/alcohol 3,928
6. sex 1,771
7. relationship 1,399
8. health/hygiene 1,270
9. school work 1,095
10. irony 792
11. sports 648
12. entertainment 392
13. celebrity 246
14. clothes 235
15. money 133
16. shopping 111

The image is a Wordle.

Track What People Are Giving Up in 2013 for Lent in Real Time

Monday, February 11th, 2013

See the top 100 things people are giving up in 2013 for Lent on Twitter, continually updated until February 15, 2013.

As I write this post, with about 5,000 tweets analyzed, the new hot topics so far this year are: meowing, Valentine’s Day, and Snapchat.

Look for the usual post-mortem on February 16, 2013.

What Twitterers Are Giving up for Lent (2012 Edition)

Saturday, February 25th, 2012

The top 100 things that people on Twitter are giving up for Lent in 2012.

This year, Twitter continues to take top honors. Facebook drops a few places compared to last year–has it become less-central to people’s lives? This year’s hot new site, Pinterest, almost makes the list, showing up at #118. (Incidentally, Pinterest has a number of Lent-related boards.)

Chocolate comes in at #2–however, if you add up all the mentions of chocolate in its various forms (“chocs,” “chocolate chips,” etc.), it totals over 14,000 mentions, enough to put it at #1.

This year’s biggest gainers are “breathing” and “makeup,” both of which jumped up more than 30 places in the list.

No celebrities make the top 100 this year. Boy band One Direction (aka #1D) is at #144, followed by Justin Bieber at #194 and Tim Tebow at #221. Last year’s curiosity, Charlie Sheen, only got two mentions; he dropped to #10,000 or so.

Overall, food was by far the most popular thing given up.

This list draws from about 300,000 tweets from February 19-25, 2012, and excludes retweets.

Rank Word Count Change from last year’s rank
1. Twitter 13,937 0
2. Chocolate 13,001 +1
3. Swearing 11,737 +1
4. Alcohol 9,998 +1
5. Soda 9,942 +2
6. Facebook 9,025 -4
7. Fast food 6,529 +3
8. Sex 6,146 -2
9. Sweets 4,973 +2
10. Meat 4,444 -1
11. Lent 4,171 -3
12. School 3,976 +1
13. Junk food 3,388 +6
14. Chips 3,150 +4
15. Coffee 2,263 0
16. Candy 2,217 +6
17. Bread 2,124 +3
18. You 2,056 -2
19. Smoking 2,002 +2
20. Giving up things 2,001 -8
21. Homework 1,908 +11
22. Food 1,800 +5
23. Social networking 1,754 -6
24. Religion 1,701 -10
25. Marijuana 1,594 +4
26. Beer 1,359 +4
27. Work 1,331 -3
28. Stuff 1,302 -3
29. McDonald’s 1,249 +21
30. Virginity 1,152 +7
31. Cookies 1,137 +3
32. Masturbation 1,134 +4
33. Ice cream 1,113 +15
34. Shopping 1,068 -6
35. Fried food 993 -4
36. Boys 956 +6
37. Sobriety 910 +7
38. Coke 899 +3
39. Catholicism 881 -13
40. Cheese 858 -7
41. Nothing 831 +5
42. Carbs 818 +16
43. Red meat 758 -8
44. Procrastination 738 +1
45. Desserts 733 +26
46. Pizza 714 +15
47. Pancakes 650 -9
48. Sugar 645 -5
49. Rice 633 -10
50. Breathing 631 +34
51. Me 628 +12
52. Texting 627 +3
53. Starbucks 623 +1
54. Fizzy drinks 595 +12
55. French fries 593 +7
56. Diet Coke 572 +21
57. Porn 562 +10
58. Tumblr 548 +12
59. Wine 546 -7
60. Makeup 539 +31
61. Liquor 534 -5
62. Booze 530 -22
63. College 524 +18
64. My phone 508 +30
65. Life 486  
66. Caffeine 466 -17
67. Laziness 453 +11
68. Chipotle 452 +30
69. Tea 445 +6
70. Chicken 442 +2
71. Cake 440 +3
72. Sarcasm 429 +4
73. New Year’s resolutions 422 +15
74. Takeout 417 +11
75. Men 412 -10
76. Pork 394 -3
77. Christianity 388 -18
78. Sleep 386 +1
79. People 384 +8
80. Caring 377  
81. Juice 357 +11
82. Snacking 345  
83. Lying 333  
84. TV 332 -31
85. Complaining 331 -2
86. Church 328 -35
87. Him 327 +2
88. Sweet tea 326  
89. Lint 326 -21
90. Vegetables 324  
91. Talking 323  
92. Bacon 321  
93. Being mean 320  
94. Pasta 316  
95. Eating out 316 +5
96. Negativity 314 -39
97. Eating 298  
98. Biting my nails 294  
99. Nutella 291  
100. Being nice 258  

Categories

Rank Category Number of Tweets
1. food 79,977
2. habits 21,836
3. technology 19,190
4. smoking/drugs/alcohol 19,073
5. health/hygiene 11,101
6. sex 9,948
7. irony 9,352
8. school/work 8,567
9. relationship 6,919
10. religion 4,157
11. generic 2,841
12. shopping 1,491
13. entertainment 1,344
14. money 526
15. sports 512
16. celebrity 461
17. possessions 376
18. clothes 111
19. politics 105

The image is a Wordle.

Track What People Are Giving Up for Lent in Real Time

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

See the top 100 things people are giving up for Lent on Twitter, continually updated for the next few days.

Look for the usual post-mortem later this week.