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What Twitterers Are Giving up for Lent (2018 Edition)

Saturday, February 17th, 2018

Social networking, Twitter, and alcohol are the top three things Twitterers gave up for Lent in 2018.

This year social networking topped the list, followed by Twitter, alcohol, chocolate, and swearing. It was a fairly typical year, with the top five the same as last year (though in a different order)–except for swearing, which came in at #6 last year, behind chips. (Chips had received a boost last year from Theresa May’s vow to give them up; this year they returned to closer to their usual spot.)

This year, 29,609 tweets (excluding retweets) specifically mention giving up something, down substantially from last year’s 73,334. In all, this year the analysis covers 427,810 tweets, down from 694,244 last year.

Relationships

As expected with Valentine’s Day falling on Ash Wednesday this year, relationship-related tweets increased:

Men + boys increased, Valentine's Day + love + being single increased sharply, and women + girls increased slightly.

Plastic

Plastic also jumped substantially this year, boosted by the Church of England’s suggestion that followers give up various forms of plastic for Lent.

Plastic increased to nearly 1% of tweets this year.

Fortnite

New to the list this year is Fortnite, a Hunger Games-style video game:

“It’s all they talk about,” said Glen Irvin, a teacher coach at a high school in Sauk Rapids, Minn., of “Fortnite”-playing students. “The only other game I’ve ever heard kids get this passionate about is ‘Minecraft.’”

Fortnite drastically outperformed Minecraft this year.

Juuling

Also new this year is juuling, a slick and covert way to vape:

Resembling a flash drive, Juul conveys a sense of industry — you’re Juuling into your MacBook Air while you are cramming for your test on Theodore Dreiser and thinking about trigonometry — and it is so easy to conceal that, as one mother explained to me, she failed to notice that her daughter was vaping in the back seat of the car as she was driving.

Giving up juuling this year was nearly half as popular as giving up smoking:

Vaping is a distant third place.

Shootings

Two newcomers to the list this year are #30, guns, and #88, mass shootings. These tweets reflected a shooting at a Florida high school on Ash Wednesday.

The relevant topics jumped

Donald Trump

Donald Trump fell this year from #22 to #67, sandwiched between hope and procrastination.

Percentagewise, tweets related to President Trump fell by about two-thirds.

Tide Pods

Finishing just out of the top 100 this year are Tide Pods, which people keep eating for some reason.

Hopefully this is a one-year wonder.

Fast Food

Chick-fil-A surged to near-parity with McDonald’s, while Chipotle this week decided to deal with its Taco Bell parity by hiring Taco Bell’s former CEO.

Meanwhile, In-N-Out lost its momentum from last year.

Snack Food

Have Hot Cheetos finally plateaued?

Hot Cheetos were identical to last year.

Emojis

This year 4,667 tweets (16%) contained at least one emoji, down from 19% last year. The most-popular emojis were: 😂 😭 ♀ 😩 🙃 🙏 ✌ 😅 🙄 ♂.

Retweets

Here’s the most-retweeted Lent post this year, with over 71,000 retweets. I’m not totally sure why. (All the rest of the data on this page excludes retweets.)

Top 100 Things Twitterers Gave Up for Lent in 2018

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

Unlike previous years, no non-political celebrities inspired large numbers of people to give them up.

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

Media Coverage

The Lent Tracker received some media attention this year:

Track in Real Time What People Are Giving Up for Lent in 2018

Monday, February 12th, 2018

See the top 100 things people are giving up for Lent in 2018 on Twitter, continually updated until February 17, 2018. You can also use the Historical Lent Tracker to see trends since 2009, though 2018 is still in flux, so I wouldn’t draw any conclusions about 2018 yet.

As I write this post, with about 1,500 tweets analyzed, perennial favorites “social networking,” “alcohol,” and “twitter” lead the list. Ash Wednesday coincides with Valentine’s Day this year (and thus Easter with April Fools’ Day), so I expect relationship-related tweets to run higher than usual.

Look for the usual post-mortem on February 18, 2017.

What Twitterers Are Giving up for Lent (2017 Edition)

Sunday, March 5th, 2017

A Wordle (wordle.net) of the top 100 things people said they were giving up for Lent this year on Twitter.

This year, alcohol topped the list for the first time; it’s been hovering in the top five for the past few years, last year landing at a then-record #3. Possibly the recent popularity of Dry January (according to the article, 16% of British adults participated in 2016) is carrying over to Lent.

“Chips” cracked the top five this year largely because British Prime Minister Theresa May announced she was giving them up for Lent. This announcement had knock-on effects lower down the list, with “her favourite thing” and “live mice” both coming in at #88. The announcement of the potential closure of a U.K. chip factory the next day led to further jokes. For my U.K. readers, yes, I know you call them crisps (and your “chips” are U.S. “French fries”); I would now tell myself in 2009, when I first started compiling this list, not to combine “chips” and “crisps” into a single line, but it’s too late now.

Donald Trump is a big winner this year, landing at #22, just behind “Facebook” but ahead of “hope.” “The presidency” comes in at #52. In all, there are 1,002 tweets mentioning “Trump,” “President,” and “POTUS,” which is good enough for #10 on the list if we were to combine them all into a single line.

“The dirtiest thing” (#66) refers to a campaign to give up non-renewable energy.

This year, 73,334 tweets (excluding retweets) specifically mention giving up something. This total is up from last year’s 60,000 tweets; I used broader search terms this year (“lent” and “lent2017”) than I have in the past. In all, this year the analysis covers 694,244 tweets, up from 200,000 last year–again, largely because of the broader search terms.

Rank Word Count Change from last year’s rank
1. Alcohol 2,396 +2
2. Social networking 2,148 0
3. Chocolate 2,143 -2
4. Twitter 2,064 0
5. Chips 1,416 +15
6. Swearing 1,395 0
7. School 1,189 -2
8. Soda 1,186 -1
9. Fast food 1,092 +1
10. Sweets 990 -2
11. Coffee 969 -2
12. Meat 909 -1
13. Lent 906 0
14. College 894 +5
15. Beer 888 +8
16. Bread 691 0
17. Sugar 660 -5
18. Life 645 +11
19. Sex 612 -1
20. You 609 -5
21. Facebook 594 -7
22. Donald Trump 520 +62
23. Hope 456 +31
24. Work 442 +3
25. Boys 433 -1
26. Religion 406 +4
27. Junk food 401 -6
28. Homework 393 -6
29. Pizza 373 -12
30. Smoking 296 +5
31. Candy 288 -5
32. Cheese 284 +4
33. Marijuana 267 +6
34. Starbucks 265 -6
35. Catholicism 259 +12
36. Ice cream 249 -5
37. Cookies 227 +1
38. F***boys 220 -13
39. Wine 219 -2
40. Being petty 212 +21
41. Instagram 210 -8
41. Breathing 210 +22
42. Rice 209 0
43. Carbs 202 +5
43. Fried food 202 +6
44. Makeup 201 +2
45. Shopping 190 +3
46. People 189 +4
47. Virginity 185 +12
48. Red meat 184 +3
49. Stuff 180 -5
50. Snapchat 168 -16
51. French fries 166 -6
52. The presidency 164 +82
53. Procrastination 159 +3
54. Men 158 +18
55. Sobriety 156 +5
56. Liquor 155 +6
57. My will to live 154 +77
58. Food 150 -15
58. Negativity 150 -3
59. Takeout 148 +7
60. Dairy 144 +6
61. McDonald’s 143 -8
62. Booze 141 -4
63. Masturbation 138 -8
64. Netflix 136 -32
64. Hot Cheetos 136 -1
65. Eating out 133 +6
66. The dirtiest thing 132 +28
67. Complaining 130 -10
68. Desserts 126 -16
69. Caffeine 125 -19
70. Coke 124 -9
71. Lying 123 +15
72. Sleep 115 -2
73. Him 114 +3
74. Feelings 108 -22
75. Fizzy drinks 103 -12
76. My job 99 +15
76. Juice 99 +1
76. Chick Fil A 99 -8
77. Pasta 95 -12
78. Pancakes 94 -7
79. Nothing 91 +14
80. Online shopping 89 -17
81. Naps 88 +9
82. Church 87 -1
83. Living 86 +43
84. Memes 83 +27
85. Cake 82 -15
86. My phone 79 -33
87. Stress 78 -14
88. Eating live mice 77  
88. My attitude 77 -10
88. Caring 77 -24
88. Her favourite treat 77  
89. Abbreviations 75 +41
90. Politics 74 +3
90. Sweet tea 74 -2
91. Potatoes 72 0
91. Classes 72 +10
92. Boba 70 +10
93. Christianity 69 -13
94. TV 65 -11
94. Sarcasm 65 -20
95. Taco Bell 63 -20
95. Donuts 63 +6
96. Oxygen 62 +18
96. Porn 62 -24
97. Studying 60 -9
97. My boyfriend 60 +3
97. The gym 60 +8
97. Diet coke 60 -30
98. Everything 59 -11
98. Anxiety 59 +13
99. New Year’s resolutions 58 -20
100. Chipotle 57 -31
100. Pork 57 -16

Fast Food

Chipotle now lands behind even Taco Bell.

In n Out continues its rise.

Snack Food

Hot Cheetos continue their snack-food dominance.

Potato chips are up a little because of Theresa May.

Adulting

It’s a verb now. Or at least a gerund.

Adulting overtakes being an adult this year.

Emojis

Just over 14,000 tweets (19%) included an emoji this year. I haven’t tracked emoji usage before, so I can’t say how that compares to previous years.

Here are the top five emojis used this year, along with the most-popular items given up:

Emoji Tweets Most-popular Given Up
😂 2,428 chocolate, alcohol, twitter
😭 1,154 chocolate, sweets, fast food
😩 889 chocolate, sweets, fast food
🙃 875 chocolate, coffee, fast food
🙄 640 chocolate, alcohol, social media

Conversely, here are the most-popular things given up with tweets that include emojis:

Given up Tweets Most-popular Emojis*
chocolate 793 🍫 🙈 😫
social media 549 ✌ 👋 🙏
alcohol 537 😅 ♀ 😬
twitter 482 ✌ 👋 🙏
sweets 355 😅 🍬 🍫

* Excluding the top-ten emojis for the year.

Retweets

The rest of this data excludes retweets, but here are the three tweets mentioning Lent that drew the most retweets. I feel that this list encapsulates Twitter; not many other top-three lists would include college humor, the pope, and Rick “Never Gonna Give You Up” Astley.

Categories

Here are my categories for the top 740 things people gave up:

Rank Category Number of Tweets
1. food 17,017
2. technology 5,659
3. habits 4,962
4. smoking/drugs/alcohol 4,880
5. irony 3,495
6. school/work 3,470
7. relationship 2,541
8. sex 1,179
9. religion 1,055
10. politics 911
11. generic 679
12. entertainment 447
13. shopping 407
14. health/hygiene 328
15. money 279
16. sports 152
17. possessions 103
18. clothes 64
19. weather 28
20. celebrity 20

Media Coverage

The Lent Tracker received some media attention this year:

  1. Christianity Today
  2. International Business Times
  3. The Sun
  4. Daily Herald
  5. Baptist News
  6. Cleveland.com
  7. Pajamas Media
  8. Catholic News Service

Track in Real Time What People Are Giving Up for Lent in 2017

Monday, February 27th, 2017

See the top 100 things people are giving up for Lent in 2017 on Twitter, continually updated until March 4, 2017. You can also use the Historical Lent Tracker to see trends since 2009, though 2017 is still in flux, so I wouldn’t draw any conclusions about 2017 yet.

As I write this post, with about 1,600 tweets analyzed, perennial favorites “social networking,” “alcohol,” and “chocolate” lead the list. My main question, given the current U.S. political climate, is how high Donald Trump will rank: he’s currently vying with smoking and sugar for #24–last year, as a presidential candidate, he finished at #82.

Look for the usual post-mortem on March 4, 2017.

What Twitterers Are Giving up for Lent (2016 Edition)

Saturday, February 13th, 2016

The top 100 things that people on Twitter are giving up for Lent in 2016.

This year, more people are giving up chocolate than anything else; last year’s favorite, school, dropped four places to #5.

Several were topical: TOPS came in at #40, referring to Louisiana’s discontinuation of the college scholarship program of that name. Presidential candidate Donald Trump came in at #82, while “running for president” came in at #84, referring to the withdrawal of candidates Chris Christie and Carly Fiorina from the race after disappointing results in New Hampshire. “Politics” came in at #91.

Big gainers this year are “indifference,” at #51, and “being petty” at #59. The former follows Pope Francis’s Lent message from last year, which a few media outlets picked up this year.

The total number of tweets, around 200,000 (with the 60,000 non-retweets specifically mentioning giving up something serving as the basis for this analysis), dropped in half from last year’s total. I don’t know whether people are using Twitter less or if Twitter is throttling the data available in their API. Either way, much less data is available this year than last.

Rank Word Count Change from last year’s rank
1. Chocolate 2,235 +1
2. Social networking 2,115 +3
3. Alcohol 1,904 +1
4. Twitter 1,903 -1
5. School 1,565 -4
6. Swearing 1,413 0
7. Soda 1,112 0
8. Sweets 1,003 0
9. Coffee 881 +1
10. Fast food 870 -1
11. Meat 793 +3
12. Sugar 792 +18
13. Lent 654 0
14. Facebook 624 +7
15. You 607 -3
16. Bread 603 +3
17. Pizza 541 +1
18. Sex 489 -2
19. College 459 -8
20. Chips 453 0
21. Junk food 439 -4
22. Homework 410 -7
23. Beer 369 +3
24. Boys 367 -2
25. F***boys 344 +3
26. Candy 313 -3
27. Work 301 +2
28. Starbucks 291 -1
29. Life 283 +4
30. Religion 278 -5
31. Ice cream 267 +1
32. Netflix 255 -8
33. Instagram 243 -2
34. Snapchat 239 +6
35. Smoking 225 0
36. Cheese 221 +13
37. Wine 220 -1
38. Cookies 218 0
39. Marijuana 193 +3
40. TOPS 179  
41. Rice 177 +3
42. Food 170 +6
43. Stuff 161 +7
44. French fries 160 +12
45. Makeup 157 +21
46. Catholicism 156 +1
46. Shopping 156 -3
47. Carbs 150 +5
48. Fried food 137 +11
48. People 137 +9
49. Caffeine 133 +18
50. Red meat 127 +10
50. Feelings 127 -9
51. Desserts 121 +4
51. Indifference 121 +124
51. My phone 121 -6
52. McDonald’s 118 -1
53. Hope 114 +10
53. Negativity 114 +15
54. Masturbation 110 +7
55. Procrastination 109 +9
56. Complaining 108 +9
57. Booze 107 +10
58. Virginity 104 -12
59. Sobriety 103 +5
59. Being petty 103 +104
60. Coke 102 -2
61. Liquor 97 +22
61. Hot Cheetos 97 +21
61. Online shopping 97 +29
61. Fizzy drinks 97 +12
62. Breathing 96 +15
63. Caring 91 +29
64. Pasta 90 +29
64. Dairy 90 +38
65. Takeout 89 +3
66. Diet coke 86 +9
67. Chick Fil A 84 +4
68. Chipotle 82 -29
68. Sleep 82 +11
69. Cake 79 +1
69. Eating out 79 0
70. Pancakes 78 +6
70. Porn 78 +4
71. Men 77 +16
72. Stress 75 +37
73. Sarcasm 71 +15
74. Taco Bell 70 +12
74. Him 70 +24
75. Gluten 68 +25
75. Peanut butter 68 +5
76. Juice 67 +19
77. My attitude 66 +64
77. Cruelty 66  
77. Tea 66 +7
78. New Year’s resolutions 64 +20
79. Christianity 63 +29
80. Church 62 +21
81. Sixth form 61 +88
82. TV 60 +24
82. Donald Trump 60  
83. Pork 58 +42
83. A levels 58 +14
84. Running for president 57  
84. Exercise 57 +16
85. Lying 55 +41
86. Everything 52 +24
86. Being mean 52 +11
86. Sweet tea 52 +5
87. Studying 51 +24
88. Chicken 50 +16
89. Naps 49 +5
89. Dunkin Donuts 49 -4
89. Potatoes 49 +28
89. God 49 +29
90. My job 48 +32
91. Nothing 46 +5
91. Politics 46 +100
92. Tinder 44 +41
93. Laziness 42 +35
94. Being single 41 +20
94. Being nice 41 +27
94. Hoes 41 +31
95. Girls 40 +10
95. Benefits 40  
96. Math 39 +10
96. Selfies 39 -34
96. Losing 39 +35
97. Bacon 38 +18
97. My boyfriend 38 +4
97. Dieting 38 +53
97. Dating 38 +60
98. Elevators 37 +32
98. Classes 37 -20
98. Buying makeup 37 +76
98. Going to school 37 +21
98. Donuts 37 +8
98. Plastic 37 +85
99. Jesus 36 +32
99. Boba 36 +28
99. Her 36 +19
99. Football 36 +83
99. Trying 36 +54
99. Snacking 36 +11
99. My feelings 36 +45
100. Tacos 35 +65
100. Lint 35 +24
100. Guys 35 +29

Social Media

Snapchat passes Instagram for the first time this year. WhatsApp continues to rank surprisingly low given its popularity.

Fast Food

Chipotle’s well-publicized food-safety woes reversed its trajectory this year.

Chipotle falls below McDonald's after passing them last year.

Snack Food

Hot Cheetos show no signs of slowing down.

Hot Cheetos continues to outpace other snack foods.

Boba

Boba, or bubble tea, is the new beverage of choice, apparently.

Boba has been steadily increasing compared to regular tea.

Categories

Rank Category Number of Tweets
1. food 15,459
2. technology 5,021
3. habits 4,299
4. smoking/drugs/alcohol 3,513
5. school/work 3,235
6. relationship 1,974
7. irony 1,812
8. health/hygiene 908
9. sex 902
10. religion 738
11. generic 577
12. entertainment 462
13. politics 374
14. relationships 344
15. shopping 341
16. money 147
17. sports 125
18. celebrity 78
19. possessions 70
20. weather 57
21. clothes 49

Media Coverage

The Lent Tracker received some media attention this year:

  1. Naples Daily News
  2. Times Union
  3. Independent
  4. Spokesman-Review
  5. Kansas City Star
  6. Fox 8 Cleveland
  7. Irish Central
  8. Newstalk
  9. Knoxville News Sentinel
  10. Des Moines Register

Track in Real Time What People Are Giving Up for Lent in 2016

Monday, February 8th, 2016

See the top 100 things people are giving up in 2016 for Lent on Twitter, continually updated until February 13, 2016. You can also use the Historical Lent Tracker to see trends since 2009, though 2016 is still in flux, so I wouldn’t draw any conclusions about 2016 yet.

As I write this post, with about 2,000 tweets analyzed, perennial favorites “chocolate,” “alcohol,” and “social networking” lead the list. Currently, “cruelty” is #6, reflecting a campaign by PETA UK asking Christians to go vegan for Lent. With the New Hampshire primaries on Tuesday and several U.S. presidential candidates likely to withdraw from the race, I’m expecting jokes about how the candidates are giving up their presidential aspirations for Lent.

Look for the usual post-mortem on February 13, 2016.

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.