While text messaging has been around since 1993, that past decade in particular has allowed it to explode into the mainstream. In fact, sending short 160 character phrases has become so popular that the majority of teenagers and young adults living in America actually text more than they speak. While the US is high on the list of countries that text message, it's not the first.
The United States, Finland, Japan, even China text a lot, but other locations fall short of the country that is known as "the texting capital of the world," the Philippines.
Mobile phones gained popularity in the Philippines much earlier and quicker than in other countries. This is because, unlike in the United States, setting up a land line is much more difficult. It can take months or even years of waiting. Mobile phones, while more expensive, were a much quicker way to stay in touch with friends and family.
Once cellphones had begin to spread in the Philippines, advertisers took advantage of it. Many used text messages as a way of billing potential customers. For example, if you wanted to purchase a drink from a vending machine but didn't have the money on you, you could text a number and select the drink of your choice. It would then dispense into the machine, and the charge would appear on your next cellphone bill. In a lot of ways, mobile phone were used as short term credit cards. This only increased popularity even more.
It was in 2001 that text messaging really exploded though. At the time, Joseph Estrada was the 13th president of Philippines. He had started serving in 1998, but in 2001, he was accused of corruption charges and underwent impeachment. Despite a large amount of evidence being brought against him, Joseph Estrada refused to step down. To add to this, senators voted to block the evidence. The public was infuriated.
Text messages, which were already being used to keep in touch with friends and family, exploded in rage. Soon students paired up with political actives and a protest began to be planned to take place at Epifanio de los Santos Avenue (EDSA), a highway that connects five major cities. The text read "Go to Epifanio de los Santos Avenue. Dress in black."
That's exactly what the outraged people did. Tens of people soon became hundreds which soon became thousands. Crowds continued to grow, completely blocking off the highway. Today, this is known as the EDSA Revolution of 2001. On day three of the protest, at 2:00pm, Joseph Estrada came on TV and announced that he would not be stepping down, however, as the crowds continued to grow, he later retracted this statement around 6:15pm and agreed to step down. The next president was sworn in the following day.
Since that day, text messages sent in the Philippines have been increasing more and more. It 2003, it was recorded that the average person living in the Philippines received 195 texts per month. South Korea followed in second with 120, third was Japan with 109, and the US trailed at number eleven with only 13.
Now, nearly ten years later, the Philippines still remains the texting capital of the world by sending an average of 600 texts a month. Ireland, China, the US and the UK trail behind at around 400.
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