The first time I heard of Wattpad was in 2017. I was still in secondary school and my Literature-in-English teacher had just given the class an assignment; we were supposed to write short stories. Seeing the excitement on most of my mates faces, I figured that something wasn’t right-only a handful of us were ever excited to take home a writing assignment and we always made it a point to never let it show that we were at the very least interested in what he was even saying. I scanned the room for Amina’s face asking why she, of all people, was excited. She did love to read but I knew just how much she detested writing. Excitedly, she answered my question saying she would just copy one of the many stories on Wattpad and Mr. Hope would never know.
I remember all the black notebooks that some would hide under their school desks so as to complete chapters for one of the many stories they had started on Wattpad
For the rest of that year and a few more years to come, I would hear so much about Wattpad not only from my friends who also ventured into writing because of it, but also from my sister and many cousins who quickly, like many of their peers became addicted to it. I remember all the black notebooks that some would hide under their school desks so as to complete chapters for one of the many stories they had started on Wattpad.
Wattpad is a free online storytelling platform that was first launched in 2006 for writers to publish, share, engage with and read the work of other users on the platform. It reached its first million users in 2011 and today has over 500 million users and counting.
Before I started my research for this article, I had titled it, “the Downfall of Wattpad” but it seems to me that we are still witnessing its rise, even if we don’t realize it. I know that many of my peers no longer read Wattpad stories talk more of writing there, most probably because they are outgrowing it. But that doesn’t signify its fall to anyone else but us, as many more people (are projected to) continue to join and enjoy the app as many of us had.
Some of the most popular genres on the website/app include Romance, Young Adult/teen fiction, Fanfiction and Fantasy. I remember the most popular ones in school-in 2017-were always the cheesiest and cliché romance stories, especially the enemies-to-lovers ones and the ones where the filthy rich guy falls in love with the girl form very humble beginnings. I’d like to believe that it’s because of Wattpad that I will always hate clichés. Experts however say that despite how well Wattpad seems to be doing, one of the pressing issues it faces includes its inability to efficiently moderate the app and take down stories that violate its guidelines and include explicit sex, graphic violence, self-harm, etc.
For the record, I never joined the Wattpad craze, partly because I didn’t want to do the same things that everyone else was doing. Also, I always imagined that reading a book with so many grammatical errors would be more of a chore than a recreational activity, which is what I assumed most Wattpad books were like at the time. Looking back at it now, however, I wish I gave in, even if just a little. I wish I read just one more book and maybe I would have started etching my own story there as well.
In-article image 1 courtesy of @smallwheelsgirl_wattpad via instagram.com. No changes made to this image.
In-article image 2 courtesy of @nartaez via instagram.com. No changes made to this image.
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