At this point, the story of Kaycee Nichole has been covered everywhere from CNN to the New York Times. I haven't seen anything this talked about on the web since November 7th, 2000. For those who don't have any clue what I'm talking about, I'll just link to this msnbc article, because I haven't been paying attention to this topic at all, so I actually have any useful links. I've just read what Kevin and Eve had to say about the situation. (Here are three more links about Kaycee that Eve sent me, if you want to dig deeper.) And today, with still more news on the subject being created, I finally spent a few minutes thinking about it, and this is what occured to me.
First, I'll describe how I understand the situation, because it'll help you understand where I'm coming from if I'm way off base. Girl with a terminal illness has an online journal, chronicling her fight. People read Girl's journal, feel happy when Girl gets better, feel sad when she gets worse. People are affected by Girl. Girl was an incredible optimist, who helped others see a little beauty around them. Girl dies. People around the net are very sad, but other people around the net are suspicious, and snoop around, and ask too many questions, and uncover that Girl did not exist, and as such, never died.
People believed in Kaycee as much as they believe in George W. Bush, though they'd never met her, and all they had to go on were some pictures and phone calls and a lot of meaningful words. Belief is an essential part of the world, as any avid Pratchett fan is well aware. People believed in Kaycee, and therefore, she existed, if not in reality then in the hearts and minds of readers around the world.
Kaycee existed, and Kaycee died, because people believed she did. I had never read her journal, but when I heard she died, I believed right along with everyone else. Apparently some people feel let down, having placed their belief in a fiction, and having cried for a fiction, and yet people willingly cry for books and movies all the daily.
And if you don't like that point of view, then look at it this way: People no longer believe in Kaycee, and without her belief, Kaycee is dead. Dead any way you look at it. And if she's dead any way you look at it, then being sad for her passing is a perfectly natural thing, even if the death was a metaphysical one.
The question, then, isn't one of whether or not she was real, but of the intentions of the deceiver. And as far as I can tell, everyone involved claims that no money or gifts were ever asked for. In this light, belief in Kaycee was an investment which didn't require anything other than the time to read her journal, and if her journal made the reader happy or sad, then it was time well spent. She didn't ask for any money to keep her "church" (web page) running, and she didn't ask for you to even believe in her. If you enjoyed reading what Kaycee had to say, and if she made you happy or sad, then your belief was well founded and the reward was free.
If people are this upset about the Kaycee situation, I'd love to see what'd happen if anyone ever proved The Bible to be fiction and showed a whole lot of people how ill-placed their belief was.
It seems to me that believing in Kaycee may have been an even better way to spend your belief than believing in some religious character.