A proper Alaskan hermit won't get COVID-19, SARS, ebola, HIV, H1N1, or the flu. The same hermit is also unlikely to become morbidly obese, get type II diabetes, or spend too much on a gleaming red car.

While hermits are safe from social diseases, the rest of us are not. The rest of us have to weigh the risk of becoming infected by social disease against our desire for sex, legacy, or some approximate fantasy. That's life.

How safe I am comes down to how I choose to (or am compelled to) spend my time. Same with you. Same for everyone else.

Do I spend hours each week crushed into a can crowded with random people all breathing the same air? If I do, I'm at high risk of a social disease like COVID-19, the flu, or a random cold. Or all of the above.

Do I spend hours each week exposed to advertisements on my phone, on TV, on billboards, or built into movies? If I do, I'm at high risk of a social disease like obesity, type II diabetes, or a fragile paycheque-to-paycheque lifestyle. Or all of the above.

Alaskan hermits don't spend their time crushed into cans or awash in advertisements, so they face no such risks. They face plenty of risk that the rest of us don't, but little risk from social diseases.

So where do you stand? How safe are you from COVID-19, the flu, and HIV? How safe are you from obesity, type II diabetes, or financial disaster?

You might be surprised how easy it is to get a rough measure of how safe you are from a wide variety of social diseases. It's a lot like counting calories for a while. When you have your measure, you can look back and estimate the totality of your risk. You will face no surprise when the measure matches up with what you're suffering from today.

How do you do get this measure? When you enter a high-risk situation, write down the time in a notepad. When you exit the situation, write down the time. Organize and analyze at the end of the day (or week). You might prefer to use your phone's stopwatch and note app. Or you might rather use a bespoke service like that I created to make it easy to both measure and compare with other people.

During a normal month, measure how much time you spend in various risky situations. For example, if you're worried about COVID-19, then you'd measure how much time you're packed into a can, or stuck in a crowd, or spending hours interacting with infected people (especially with inadequate PPE or poor decontamination practices). If you're working from home, you'd instead measure your time at the grocery store, the pharmacy, at the running track, or other situations of moderate risk.

On its own, the measure of your own risk is nice to have, but it shines when you can compare your risk profile to other people's risk profile. While we non-hermits are always facing some risk, it's a horrible feeling to unknowingly take on more risk than everyone else without a good reason. Now you can make sure you're not that person. Or yell to the world that you are that person.

If there's one thing I've learned about people, it's that we'll each keep doing what we're already doing until we're forcibly knocked off track, even when we're slowly killing ourselves. Sometimes that outside force is an "Aha!" moment when we finally see what's been in staring us in the face the entire time, like when your doctor tells you that you'll be dead by 35 unless you cut back to merely one family-sized bag of Doritos a week.

Most of us never see the connection between how we spend our time and the suffering that arises from it later. What would we do differently if we could see that connection? What would we do differently if we could compare our risk profile with other people?