all right, now it appears that there were no cancer victims involved in any way, except maybe from some time in debbie's past. so I'm no longer sad about that. on the other hand, I am still worried about the real-life people involved, including the family of the julie girl whose pictures were used on kaycee's site. what a rude introduction to the subtleties of the internet! I was weirded out enough by the first time someone stole something of mine for a website design, and I've been messing around on the internet for almost eight years. and I can't even begin to imagine what's going on in debbie swenson's household right now.

at the same time, though, I have to admit that the revelation that there was no real dead girl has turned this investigation process from something rather icky into something pretty fascinating. one of the interesting things to me is how the "mainstream" media has been superlative-izing kaycee. everywhere you look there's something about how breathtakingly beautiful she was, how relentlessly friendly, and even talented -- I believe msnbc called her writing "exquisite." is this just laziness, or are we incapable of telling a story this outrageous without sensationalizing it into the realm of made-for-tv-movie melodrama?
by rabi on 5/22/2001 04:48:10 PM | bang on

Ladies and Gentlemen, the blogging/journal/personal homepage community is experiencing our first "21" scandal (as you may recall summarized in Quiz Show). I remember reading the Kaycee blog late last summer, being touched at her willingness to share, but beyond that initial read my interest waned. When the announcement on MetaFilter of her passing occured, I back tracked to read her latest post and felt a sort of abstract doubt that her final post could be written a mere few hours before her death, and what was worse was that the flower-graphic "Kaycee died" page was up only a few hours after that. So from the get go I felt sort of disgusted that someone in her family, while grieving with such recent news, had taken the time to create and post a memorial page before even a single night had passed.

Obviously it's all moot now, and had I been an avid reader of Kaycee's blog (her writing style and narrative never actually appealed to me, and when I'm looking for a feel-good-about-not-being-sick site I'll take Fiona Elise anyday) I'm sure I'd feel cheated, and downright duped. But in the end, whomever wrote all the posts that everyone found enriching perpetuated a fraud. If in some fine print at the page's bottom, or even a hidden comment tag, s/he had admitted that the blog was indeed fiction, I think her page would have still held the relevance and power that it's readers had come to expect, without the inevitable fallout of being outed.

ADDENDUM: For those of you (ahem, Alison and Ryan I'm looking at you) that may have missed it, here are the details of the conspiracy, or at least what we know thus far.
by andrew wollman on 5/21/2001 02:27:12 PM | bang on

the only thing that truly bothers me about this, in the final analysis, is that I have no idea who the real people were. and the real people did have cancer, and they did die, right? I wish I could have known them.
by rabi on 5/21/2001 12:34:26 PM | bang on

Wow, now here's a topic for discussion; the Kaycee Nicole fiasco. I know I bought it, hook, line, and sinker. Rabi too, as far as I can tell. Lots of intelligent people who I respect did. I don't like to feel stupid, or to be tricked and manipulated. And I'm not very often... I tend to question most everything that I'm told. But, at some point, you just have to have some sort of implicit, blind trust in others, don't you? Otherwise, it's impossible to have real relationships, emotions, etc.

I've always tried to give people the benefit of the doubt, and trust them until they do something to break that trust. I've never been seriously burned for that, online or off. I've probably just been lucky so far. All of my experiences with web people I have met in meatspace have been overwhelmingly positive, and thus I have let my guard down more and more when it comes to believing what I read in this loose blogging / journalling community. Looking back, the whole thing does look very fishy. The maxim that "if it's too good to be true, it probably isn't" comes to mind immediately. This whole thing just makes me sick to my stomach. And, more importantly, raises serious questions about writing, reading, and relating on the web, as well as emotional investment in the written word.

Did it matter if the story was true? You could take a pomo / relativist position and say no... that the emotions elicited were genuine, and that's all that matters. I don't buy that in the end, though. Yes, works of fiction can and do elicit powerful feelings and even change lives(mine included), but these are different than those which are the result of real people and genuine lives lived and chronicled. Failing to realize and indicate that difference on the part of whoever wrote Living Colours was at best very naive, and at worst, sick and manipulative. I still don't know entirely what to think, but it gives pause, especially regarding the real differences of character and believability between the online and offline worlds, which I had so seamlessly integrated up to now. This is innocence lost as far as the web goes, for me anyway.
by Jared Dunn on 5/20/2001 03:51:56 PM | bang on