10 Cultural Habits We’re Giving Up for Lent

For most Americans, Ash Wednesday is nothing more than the day after Mardi Gras, where everyone comes into work with a hangover — including the few people wandering around the office with ashes on their heads. Now, we don’t mean to be scolds, and we’re the last folks in the world who would push a religious agenda on you, but we’d also like to point out that all the partying you’re doing tonight is in preparation for some serious self-denial in the time between tomorrow and Easter. And regardless of your beliefs, there has to be something you’d benefit from giving up for a while.

So, in the spirit of the cultural resolutions we made at the end of last year, we’ve picked ten cultural habits — vices, crutches, tendencies — to give up for the next seven weeks. Tell us what you’re kicking to the curb in the comments.

Celebrity trainwrecks

We’ve had our fun with Charlie Sheen, and now it’s time to say goodbye — not least because what’s behind our obsession with his multimedia meltdown isn’t that funny. Of course, celebrity crises can be entertaining, oddly absorbing, and even reassuring (they may be rich, but their lives aren’t perfect!). But what they really do is distract us from both what’s actually going wrong in the world and what is truly worth caring about in the realm of culture. And, whether it’s Sheen, Lindsay Lohan, Amy Winehouse, Mel Gibson, or any number of other famous crazy people, what we’re laughing at tends to be addiction, mental illness, and bigotry — which have real effects on not only the stars in question but also the family members, friends, and strangers who bear the brunt of their bad behavior.