Thursday, April 14, 2011

Weird Lenten Twitter List

Thanks to Stuart at echurch Blog for drawing attention to Stephen Smith's list of what Twitterers gave up for Lent. Stephen, with techie skills beyond the comprehension of mere mortals, trawled Twitter between March 7th and 10th, aggregating all the tweets that referenced "giving up for Lent" and came up with a ranked list (as apparently he does every year). Here's the top 10 (with the number of occurences in brackets):

1. Twitter (4297)
2. Facebook (4060)
3. Chocolate (3185)
4. Swearing (2527)
5. Alcohol (2347) 
6. Sex (2093)
7. Soda (1959)
8. Lent (1493)
9. Meat (1352)
10. Fast food (1303)

There's serious intent here, but also sarcasm ("religion" also ranks at 14), and humour (147 people went for "lint"). Click on the link to see the top 100, and see what you think. But my reaction to this is more like a bronze age tribesman gazing at the stars and feeling very small.

We post things on Twitter and the like and imagine that we are being shrewd and funny. Perhaps we are, but let's not imagine we are in any way original. So you think you are clever, tweeting "I'm giving up sobriety for Lent" ? Well, 225 other people had the same idea, and it weighed in at a similar place on the list last year. There's nothing new under the sun, and each voice is one of a countless multitude, all saying much the same thing.

(Interestingly, one of the very few original entries this year seems to have been generated by Arsenal fans tweeting about giving up winning for Lent. What this tells us, I have no idea).

There's something curiously sobering, and very Lenten, about reading the list. It's not just the sense of shared observance (because most of the tweets are serious, not jocular). But the notion that we are each just a tiny drop in the ocean of humanity is quite humbling, and makes me want to give up opinions for Lent.

4 comments:

Ray Barnes said...

If you can give up opinions for lent you are superhuman.
Giging up expressing opinions might be a possibility (though not for me I hasten to add)

Fr David Cloake said...

I am abstaining from abstention, and blogging. D'oh!

Archdruid Eileen said...

The lesson we can learn from the Internet is that there truly is nothing new under the sun. It seems impossible to be truly original in a world of 6bn people.

Charlie said...

I don't know, though. There can't be that many crazed Beaker Archdruids out there.