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Living (and Dying) in an Online World


Online MomBeing a parent is a responsibility. And more than that, it’s a responsibility that thousands of people never get to enjoy . . . making it a privilege that rivals any personal success that can happen in a person’s life. But a woman in Japan decided that it was more important to stay online than it was to keep her child safe, marking another death due to our fading grasp on what the most important “reality” is.

Yumiko Takahashi, 29-years-old and living in Japan, will certainly never win mother of the year. Her 19-month-old son, Neo, had been running a fever, so she laid him down in his crib sometime around June 24 of last year. It wasn’t until June 26 that the young boy was discovered dead. With Takahashi on the computer almost 24/7, there was no one else to take care of him for those almost two full days.

Even more unsettling, the baby was presumably not offered food, water, or a change for the duration of that time; all while his mother sat online in chat rooms. That’s right. As her infant son was sick and needed her, Takahashi sat in the other room spending a full day furthering her web-chatting habit, according to local media reports.

While this isn’t quite the same level of terror as the American mother who shook her child to death for interrupting a FarmVille game, it’s fairly clear that Neo died because of a lack of attention from his sole support system. And this isn’t the first time that Yumiko has experienced tragedy, making it bewildering that she would put another child in harm’s way.

According to authorities, her first child died within the first few days of his life due to an illness, and her second child fell to his death from an apartment balcony as a boy. Takahashi reportedly blamed the most recent event for her troubles, accepting little blame and making excuses that are as evil as the crime itself.

“I have sought solace in chatting on the Internet to get connected to other people for three years since I got depressed for losing my son in an accident,” local police have reported. “Child-raising is too much hassle.”

But if child-raising is such a hassle, then why bring another life into the world? Why make the decision to be a mother, only to waste the second chance (or third chance, in this scenario) you were given by neglecting your dying child in his very own crib?

Thankfully, the police are making her answer for it.

The extended lag between Neo’s death and police action appears to be due to an investigation that finally resulted in Takahashi’s arrest in Otsu, western Japan. She was reportedly charged with suspicion of child neglect and causing death, and it appears as if she’ll have to pay for her role in this tragedy.

The scary thing is, at what point do the lives we are living become less important than the solace we find in an online community? Is our ability to plug in becoming our undoing as a society? Or is it possible to balance the burgeoning internet world with the one we already live and breathe in?

No matter what the answer, this is hopefully the last story any of us have to hear about an infant who was deemed less important than a chat room.


Cited Sources

"Mom Ignores Dead Baby For Full Day While Chatting on Web, Says Raising Kids Is Too Much Hassle." The Inquisitr. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 July 2012. <http://www.inquisitr.com/266909/mom-ignores-dead-baby-for-full-day-while-chatting-on-web-says-raising-kids-is-too-much-hassle/>.

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