The early 2000s saw many changes in the cultural fabric of the United States. Fear of terrorism was rampant, and technology was beginning to serve a bigger role in everyday life, whether individuals wanted it to or not. This all came into play in setting the stage for the publication of Cell, especially the rising cell phone usage being seen in the United States.

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“September 11 2001 just collapsed” by Wally Gobetz is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

Fears of Terrorism

It would be somewhat redundant to explain all the ways the events of September 11th, 2001, changed the United States, as we are all seeing many of the effects still today. Fears of terrorism spread, as did islamophobia, airport security was forever changed, and the nation worked to overcome the great tragedy. This changed worldview can be seen in many aspects of American popular culture in the early 2000s, and Cell is no different. Although no entirely intact explanation is given for the events in the novel, the main idea which is spoken of throughout is that the “Pulse” was caused by terrorists of unknown origin. In fact, within the first chapter the following interaction occurs:

“”Something blew up over there. I mean big time. Maybe its terrorists.” As soon as the word was out of his mouth, Clay knew he was right.” (King, Stephen. Cell. Charles Scribner’s Sons, 2006.)

The novel also addresses the idea that technology has presented a potential weakness, and a potential way to access the majority of the American public.

Cell Phone Use

The percentage of Americans who owned a cell phone had been steadily increasing throughout the early 1990s, and was well over 50% by the early 2000s. In 2005, when Cell was likely being written, cell phone usage was around 66-67%. By midway through 2006, it had increased to around 73%. As the chart above illustrates, cell phone use has continued to increase, and is now around 95%, with the majority of those being smartphones. Through this information you can clearly see that cell phone use was beginning to become a prominent part of American life, and it is not hard to see how this could cause some anxieties.