CHOCOLATE. Soft drinks. Fast food and Facebook.
These are just some of life’s pleasures people have chosen to abstain from this year during the period of Lent.
In the past, it was the extras such as lollies or television that people gave up for 40 days, but now things like texting and Facebook are joining the list.
But f or some Christians, t he modern-day trend of social networking is just too tempting to give up.
Lent is the period of weekdays when Christians observe three practices of giving, fasting and prayer. Starting on Ash Wednesday, which this year fell on March 9, it goes until Easter Sunday, this year falling on April 24.
Michael Orr, a teacher at Sacred Heart Primary School in the Sydney suburb of Mosman said he was encouraging his Year 3 students to stop computer games.
‘‘ It’s tough for them. But even if they try just every second day, it’s good. Then they are free to play on Sundays,’’ he said.
‘‘ No one’s bound by Lent on Sundays.’’ He believes social networking takes up too much time in the lives of people and they don’t have time to reflect on life.
‘‘ If people spend less time on Facebook, they’ll spend more time with their family and friends,’’ he said. Adding that time is also a s acrif i ce. ‘ ‘ Because t echnology never stops, it’s important, especially with what is happening in Japan, to stop and reflect and think about these issues.
‘‘ Lent is not a depravation, it’s a time to look at who we are,’’ Orr said.
Year 12 St Mary’s Cathedral College student, Alex, said usually he choose to abstain from fast food or sweets, but this year he was trying to cut down on the time he spends
SACRIFICE: Lent is the period between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday when Christians give, fast and pray on the internet. ‘‘ Normally, I would use the internet every day. For Lent I’m trying to stop procrastinating on it. I feel better. It ( social networking) is a big part of our lives,’’ said the 17-year-old.
With more than 500 million users, Facebook is a big part of many people’s daily routine. People spend more than 700 billion minutes per month on Facebook, and according t o U S m o n i t o r i n g c o m p a n y , Pingdom, the average Facebook user is 38-years-old.
Brisbane-based Danielle King, 39, said when she was younger she’d try and stop eating l ollies during Lent.‘‘ I’d try and be smart and tell my parents etables.’’
Going to a Catholic school in Griffith, NSW, she said Lent was a big part of the year.
Today, she said it would be impossible for her to give up Facebook and all forms of social networking for 40 days.
‘‘ I’d feel like my right arm was cut off. I’m a social media butterfly. I’m on it all day – even from work.’’
King admited she was addicted to Facebook and uploads her site most days with new messages and photos – especially because her family was interstate.
‘‘ I have a friend who is giving up
veg- texting for Lent. She sent a message ( at the beginning of Lent) asking people to respect her wish. But for me it would be very, very difficult to stop.’’
A n o t h e r S y d n e y s t u d e n t , Lawrence, 17, said the priest giving the Ash Wednesday liturgy had asked the St Mary’s Cathedral College students to try giving up something different for Lent such as social networking. ‘‘ It’s a modern way of approaching Lent which is good,’’ he said. Not being a big user of Facebook, Lawrence has chosen non-physical abstinence this year – he’s vowed to stop arguing with his brothers and sisters.