Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at SFU chapter.

Gen Z is known for a variety of  things: creating Tik-Tok dances, having Instagram accounts with only 2 posts, romanticising their life to make it aesthetically pleasing, bringing back y2k fashion, Olivia Rodrigo (I don’t have to add anything else here) and most especially, reading stories written by other Gen Zs on Wattpad. For those who don’t know about Wattpad, aka  Millennials, it used to be a free platform that allowed people to write their stories and read other users’ publications. Despite some stories being accessible only through a paywall, there were still some evergreen masterpieces and tropes Gen Z grew up with that will never be forgotten and are even represented throughout T.V. shows and movies today. 

The app connoisseurs know all about how Wattpad wouldn’t be the same without its fanfics. The app isn’t known for discriminating between fandoms and there are many to choose from.  One can safely say that Gen Z wouldn’t be the same iced coffee addicted and outwardly spoken generation that it is without its collection of Draco and Hermione shippers and One-Direction x reader fanfics. The time Gen Z will spend nowadays manifesting their true love, stems undoubtedly from the time they used to daydream about falling in love with Harry Styles after going to one of his concerts. Not to mention, many of these fanfics that blew up on Wattpad later became published books. What started out as a Harry Styles fanfic on the app, the worldwide “After” series by Anna Todd has expanded with 3 movies in the past 7 years and fans are eagerly waiting for another release later this year!

Now, whether it be to some young, eligible billionaire who needs a wife before inheriting his father’s company or some 24-year-old Italian mafia boss who secretly kidnaps the girl he loves, it’s safe to say the fake-dating and marriage of convenience hype began on Wattpad. By making an entire generation believe that uncommon scenarios such as fake dating or convenience marriages are likely to lead to an epic love story, Wattpad’s writers might have caused Gen Z’s dating standards to become higher than the moon, while at the same time making people romanticize the bare minimum in relationships. Not every Gen Z will agree, but those who have been infatuated with this forced romance trope will likely see nothing wrong with the young billionaire showering his wife with gifts and a nice dinner after brutally ignoring her existence for a week and also forgetting her birthday. Any love interest would probably argue something along the lines of: “Birthdays can come again next year, but not their dream Ferrari. And did I mention I brought her cake?!” 

But how can we forget the goody-two-shoes girl infatuated with the bad boy who will never address his feelings for her, and will end up treating her badly (in the beginning, at least)?  Despite many shows and movies thriving off this teenage romance angst (calling all Damon and Elena shippers), it hasn’t done much in terms of making relationships easier to navigate for Gen Z. It’s best to not romanticize every rival or hated relationship we come across because reality is a lot more complicated than a Wattpad best-selling sensation. You might not be aware of this, but the Netflix original The Kissing Booth and its two sequels were actually adapted from a Wattpad story which had gained lots of popularity on the app for years because of the bad boy and good girl trope.

Whether it be imagining yourself dating Draco Malfoy while skimming through a Harry Potter fanfic, reading about a marriage of convenience to the most eligible billionaire or of the bad boy falling head over heels for a fictitious nerd, the cultural chokehold Wattpad had on an entire generation was enough to last a lifetime. Even if Wattpad raised Gen Z to believe love can be found in the most unexpected of places and might have rebranded red flags into somewhat acceptable behaviours, reading under the bed sheets until 3 am sure was a priceless experience. 

Manpreet is a Psychology student at Simon Fraser University and also happens to be a heavy baker of anything sweet and a hopeless romantic by heart. When she is not busy reading, writing, working part-time, or drinking wine, she can be found with her high school friends planning something.