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How AdSense Ruined My Life

By David Westbrook

Because I used to work on a crisis line, I've heard a-lot stories of how drugs crept up on people and took over their lives. I once talked to a self-admitted drug dealer who had trafficked in pot for years. It was how this person made most of her living; she even had a state issued medical marijuana card so that she could always be in possession without getting busted. One day a friend introduced her to the profits that could be made from selling methamphetamine, so she started dealing crank; doing a little herself on the side. A month later, she was calling the crisis line looking for treatment. Crank was destroying her faster than she had ever imagined possible.

On December 22, 2004, I was making my living in the normal way that a lot of people do, working for the man. That evening I had to drop my dog off at my brother-in-law's house before leaving town for a hard earned Christmas vacation. He's "retired" from a major software manufacturer, which means he accepted a lay-off when they were doing a little reorganization. Tired of working for Corporate America he has been trying his hand at self-employment for the past couple of years. The night I dropped my dog off, he was excited about something called AdSense, which I had never heard of. He is not an excitable man, but he was excited about having earned $6,000 off his website that month. I had built one rinky-dink website in my life, and the idea of doing that and sitting back to watch the money roll in excited me greatly. On the way home, I called my wife and talked her ear off about it.

Having worked extra hours to get everything ready for my absence, and knowing that I would return to a backlog of work, I had been looking forward to spending time with family and friends and getting in a little skiing to boot. It took me just under three-hours after touching down to sneak into my father's den and begin looking up information on AdSense. Later my wife was flipping through a recent issue of Discover Magazine and came across a short article on Google's ad program. In a move that fueled the fire and which I am sure she is now sorry for, she excitedly showed me the article. Serendipity, that's what I called it. I spent more time on the computer during our vacation than I did with my family. When my wife and friends went skiing I said I wanted to stay home and hang out with my dad. Of course, I meant my dad's computer.

On December 26, 2004, I knew how to make my fortune and registered two domain names. We got home on January 3, 2005 in the morning, and that afternoon I was building web pages. Within a week, I had built the first few pages of my first site. Plagued by viruses, an old slow system, and a lack of knowledge about how to do what I was trying to do I was moving slower than a slug on a salt bed. On January 6, I bought a new computer, installed virus protection, and loaded on a firewall. The fact that I was hiding the bills from my wife was a sure sign of addiction.

On January 14, my wife would be leaving for a three-week business trip, and I relished the time I would soon have alone to work. A few days before her departure, we had a talk about the lack of time I was spending with her and I promised to do better, but every time she would walk into my office I would hit the monitor's power button and pretend like I had been reading. The night before she left I stayed in my office working till midnight, then got up at 5:00 so I could work some more before having to leave for work. As I quickly hurried to shower and dress for work, she wanted to know if "this" was what I meant by spending more time together. I protested that I had finally been able to get my pages uploaded and they even had ads on them. She rolled her eyes; I kissed her goodbye, apologized, and promised that I would not neglect the house while she was gone.

For the past three weeks, I've been functioning on 4-5 hours of sleep per night. I have bags under my eyes, friends say I look haggard and like I am losing weight. The dishes are stacked up, the carpet hasn't been vacuumed in weeks, I have no idea if our washer and dry work any longer, and I've lost track of the piece of paper that says when my wife is arriving at the airport.

Lately, I've been wondering if it's all worth it, if I should seek help, maybe find a 12-step program for AdSense addicts before I loose my wife. Honestly, I was thinking of quiting for good, but then I checked my AdSense earnings. I've made $3.45. Hopefully my wife wont mind taking a taxi.

About The Author
David Westbrook is a freelance writer and creator of

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