As part of the observance of Lent, many American Christians are logging out of Facebook and Twitter, opting to give up social media more than any other thing, according to a recent survey.
Every other year, the website DecisionData.org takes a poll of Americans to see what they are giving up for Lent, a season on the liturgical calendar that ends with Easter Sunday.
In a poll of 586 American adults whose findings were released Tuesday, the website found that “social media” was the most common thing given up, with 21 percent of respondents naming it.
In second place was “alcohol” at 18 percent and third place was “chocolate/sweets” at 13 percent. The rest of the list was “soda/coffee” (11 percent), “junk snacks” and “fast food” (8 percent), “pornography” (6 percent), “marijuana” and “tobacco” (4 percent), and “other” (7 percent).
“Religious or not, Lent can be a great time of year to give up a distraction and refocus on other things that might be more important in our lives,” noted DecisionData.org.
“While popularized in religious circles, Lent is spreading into the secular world, as more people participate in the fasting of some specific thing over the 40 days that lead up to the Easter holiday.”
When the website last did its Lent poll in 2017, “alcohol” had topped the list at 20 percent, “junk snacks” was second at 15 percent, and “social media” was at third with 14 percent.
In 2017, DecisionData.org explained that while alcohol had been at the top of the list before, “most notably is the rise in social media on the list of things people are giving up.”
Situated between Ash Wednesday and Easter, Lent lasts for 40 days plus Sundays to mirror the length of time Jesus Christ spent fasting in the wilderness, as described in Matthew 4:1-11.
Jennifer Eivaz, pastor at Harvest Christian Center in Turlock, California, believes many Christians do not fast largely because they are not taught to. But the Bible calls believers to fast.
She also maintained that while it's helpful to fast technology, biblical fasting requires giving up food.
Earlier this month, Village Church Pastor Matt Chandler encouraged Christians to give up food for Lent in order to "orient their hearts around the betterness of Jesus above earthly pleasures."
“Not all food but, but maybe that's breakfast, or maybe that's lunch, or something like that,” explained Chandler, noting that fasting has traditionally been associated with Lent.
“We want to set aside a good gift from God in the gift of food, the provision of that food, the gift of the taste of that food, the joy that comes from that food.”