Senior Copy & Opinions Editor
When reminiscing about the early 2010s, you might remember Sillybandz trading sessions, going to 7-11 for Slurpees, and khakis with checkered Vans. Most of us were probably in middle school at the time and might also remember cereal straws, Gogurt commercials with Disney star Dylan Sprouse, and Gushers you’d smush together or slowly tear apart — depending on your personality. This nostalgia continues with the ultimate emblem of any Gen Z preteen in 2011: Wattpad.
For those of you that don’t recognize this word, Wattpad is the literary embodiment of Chef Gusteau’s motto, “Anyone can cook.” It’s essentially a space that allows anyone to write stories of any kind — including romance, comedy, action, horror, sci-fi, historical fiction, and fantasy, which people can comment on and circulate.
For those of you who immediately received flashbacks to Tumblr title pages and pick-me girls galore, let’s address the value of Wattpad. This app evokes an experience that 1990s to early 2000s babies cherish for several reasons. For some, it was an enjoyable, free, and extensive online library. Others might recall the website’s accessibility and the thrill of weekly updates. Logistically speaking, these were perks to Wattpad that made the experience easy. However, let’s be clear — Wattpad is not a source for great literature — if anything, the stories that we enjoyed from Wattpad are ironically good.
For context, these “books” written in Wattpad first began as small spaces for readers to indulge in other writers’ works and cheesy narratives that satisfy your favorite trope or ship.
There were girls who were bullied for their “quirky” personalities, later spotted by the popular jock who then pursued this wallflower. There were snotty girls that stuck up for themselves and refused to conform to whatever other girls were doing because “I’m not like other girls.” There were millionaire men that signed marriage contracts with reluctant, poor girls who eventually fell in love despite their fake relationship. The list goes on.
There is also an extensive collection of fanfiction for every ship, in all imaginable shows or movies. Today, Wattpad is the public notes app for every fandom that’s ever existed, and it stands as an oldie, but a goodie, for TikTok users that recommend exciting reads for Haikyuu fans and Miraculous Ladybug ships.
“Though I won’t negate the problematic tropes apparent throughout each narrative, I’ll argue that Wattpad is the trashy type of good that we all have a soft spot for.”
Despite these predictable storylines and obnoxious character builds, Wattpad was considerably popular. Almost 100 peak books have been published in real life, including classics like “The Quirky Tale of April Hale” and the “After” series, which has reached its final form as a Netflix adaptation.
Though I won’t negate the problematic tropes apparent throughout each narrative, I’ll argue that Wattpad is the trashy type of good that we all have a soft spot for. Yes, it was a space for people to read about raging sexual tensions in incredibly misogynistic settings.
It was also a space where toxic masculinity was unapologetic and pick-me girls were the majority. But in retrospect, Wattpad is the ultimate guilty pleasure. Why else would you watch the Vampire Diaries for the third time? What about those of you that still keep up with Barbie when you need a quick pick-me-up?
Though we all have our own safe spaces and Wattpad experiences differ based on what genre you are interested in, I argue that it holds a sort of generational value to it despite its old cultural markers and outdated social ideologies. Just kidding, it’s not that serious.