In today's Stone Soup, Val tries to catch up:
But even among young people, texting became popular in the U.S. only a couple of years ago, more than five years after it became widespread in Europe and Japan. See "What's the difference?" (3/10/2008), and some of the links there, e.g. "No text please, we're American", The Economist, 4/3/2003; "Why text messaging is not popular in the US", textually.org, 4/4/2003.
The question that I asked then seems still to be unanswered:
The explanations offered for the geographic difference, back then, included Japanese commuting habits and social conventions discouraging phone conversations in public; greater availability of networked computers to Americans; different voice, SMS and internet pricing structures between Europe and the U.S.; the fact that SMS "was originally defined as part of the GSM series of standards", while U.S. cell phone service is more diverse in terms of its underlying technology.
But in general, these things haven't changed (as far as I know). So why are U.S. adolescents suddenly texting up a storm? Is this a cultural change driven by purely cultural factors?
Where are the social scientists when you need them?
As it happens, today's Non Sequitur has a theory to offer:
You'd have to add some extraneous hypotheses about overseas testing, but of course a good conspiracy theory thrives on extraneous hypotheses.
[And here's a lexicographic question that the OED won't help with: when and where did an L handshape on the forehead, meaning "loser", move from ASL into general use? (I assume that's the direction of borrowing…) I know that the phenomenon was promoted by the song All Star in Shrek 2, but it seems to be older than that.]