Literary Literacy: A Brief Look into Modern Day Literature


Disclaimer: This is just an opinion.

So, I just opened a Wattpad account not long ago. I know I’m a bit late, but still, I was quite excited to see what the fuss was all about. A platform in which aspiring writers can publish their works for free - I mean, who wouldn’t be curious. Little did I know that my excitement was about to turn into a great disappointment. It’s not just the lack of skill that disheartened me, but the lack of originality as well. Wattpad, at least in my view, was supposed to showcase the young generation’s literary capabilities, of which I had seen none, regrettably. This brought up a question in my head: is literature dying? I answered: well, “dying” is a bit dramatic. “Backsliding” would be the best expression. Now, I’m no literary expert. I’m just a guy who’s familiar with a couple of good books. Yet my criticism is not without merit, for it is backed by 2 reasons.

The first one is that I think our generation is not reading great books. There is a saying that goes, “If you want to learn how to write, read.” I believe, as a generation, our exposure to great literature is decreasing steadily. This is mainly because of our value judgment. In a world where even vaccines are being politicized, we analyze literature via ideology rather than an artistic mindset. Several of Shakespeare’s plays, Murakami’s novels, and other classic works of fiction have been portrayed as “misogynist” or “racist” or some other ideological red flag. And people nowadays are using those “reasons” to dismiss these works as unworthy. Of course, these works portray some actions or words that may be wrong in our current moral standards. But they are a reflection of a society we, as humans, once were. And I believe these books contain ideas that are still worthy in our current world. And to simply dismiss them is as ignorant as it is arrogant, robbing us of the opportunity of being educated from them.

The other reason is that our current environment is not harsh enough. Our reception to criticism, I believe, is at an all-time low. The “safe spaces” we created have made us lose our tough skin. We would very much prefer an environment that celebrates our mediocrity rather than one that tells it how it sees it. Criticism nowadays is seen as hate and critics are deemed as haters. It’s true, none of us like criticism, but the least we can do is understand it. Considering those criticisms might help us move one step forward in our work. I believe our current writers should get a platform where their work can be scrutinized and criticized for their own sake.

I don’t plan to paint a bleak picture here. I know that there are still a couple of young writers who are amazing and who continue to improve themselves. And I do acknowledge that writing is a very hard thing to do. To express yourself in a world of your own creation requires an amazing level of creativity. However, if we are unwilling to learn and unwilling to improve our craft, our work might just end up being truly unworthy.

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