In the spring of '99 I met a young girl online by the
name of Kaycee Nicole Swenson. She applied to be a host
and I was, at the time, the host manager (you can read
her host application here). During the next two years,
I found this girl to be remarkable...almost super-human!
For the first year, I received at least one and usually
more e-mail from this girl. She was one of the better
hosts on collegeclub, and she seemed to possess an unlimited
amount of time and dedication for working on the site.
She was also one of the most cheery people I've ever run
She also turned out to be a fake.
I received pictures (digital and photographs in frames...one frame in particular read, "Friends"), gifts, cards, daily e-mail, and even voice mails from this girl. It did run across my mind a couple times early on that she may not be who she said she was, but then you just think "What would the point be? Who would stretch this out for so long and do so much?" Apparently some crazy, middle-aged religious chick in Kansas would!!
When Kaycee "passed away," I was in Puno, Peru. The news was heartbreaking. After all, I thought I had actually lost a friend. I held a postcard of the Condor Nazca Line with a message I had written on it for her. I thought, "How could something like this happen? She was so full of life." It wasn't until I got to Quito, Ecuador that I was able to find out that the whole thing had been a hoax. I went through the metafilter posts, looked at other sites, and sure enough...it was something weird.
A friend of mine commented, "How deep does the rabbit hole go?" Truly...how deep does it go? To think that I was an unknowing participant in the bizarre obsession-fascination complex of some bored middle-aged housewife is trippy to the extreme. After getting back from South America, I decided to go through my old collegeclub accounts and find any old Kaycee e-mail I had laying around. Re-reading them now really gave me the creeps. The words seem to twist in the winds of a mental labyrintine episode. Echoes of an unhealthy fascination with an innocent girl ring through. While reading these messages, think of Debbie posing as Kaycee and what must've been going through her mind to keep this going. She truly had to be completely obsessed with all of this if only because of the sheer amount of time she put into it (for example, read her message board posts on HighSchoolClub). Collegeclub was just the beginning: soon she was moving onto HighSchoolClub.com, CitizenX, and eventually her own blog.
I think I can speak for everyone involved when I say I hope Debbie is seeking professional help. I'm making these messages public simply for the curiosity of it all; and as an amateur folklorist, I see it almost as my duty. I've included everything (and the formatting is pretty inconsistent simply because I didn't want to go through and hand correct Word's html)...good and bad, personal kaycee info, and all. I saw people asking on metafilter how anyone could be duped like this...well, read these messages, multiply by 1,000 and two years, and ask yourself how you would've reacted.