I got into trouble a while ago for saying that I thought the internet led to increased literacy – people scolded me about the shocking grammar to be found online – but I was talking about fundamentals: quite simply, you can’t use the net unless you can read. Reading and writing, like everything else, improve with practice. And, of course, if there are no young readers and writers, there will shortly be no older ones. Literacy will be dead, and democracy – which many believe goes hand in hand with it – will be dead as well.
Allen Lau, the co-founder of Wattpad, remembers getting a letter from an old man in a village in Africa. The village had no school, no library, no landline, and no books. But it had a mobile phone, and on that they could read and share the Wattpad stories. He was writing to say thank you.
So that’s why I’m judging the Wattpad poetry contest. Wattpad opens the doors and enlarges the view in places where the doors are closed and the view is restricted. And somewhere out there in Wattpadland, a new generation is testing its wings.