But most of the time, I really hate actually being at conferences. That's because the things I dream about actually happen very rarely. At the vast majority of conferences, what you have is a large group of smart, creative people who have traveled far and near to be co-located for a couple days for some shared interests — but then they're all piled into crammed rooms where they have to sit for hours and listen to one person after another read from their papers or read from their presentation slides. For most of the duration of the conference, most people aren't doing anything other than being forced to stay in the same stationary position in silence while being talked at. The things that actually excite me about conferences — meeting and bonding with people who care about what I care about, discussing ideas with people from different backgrounds, forming real relationships — happen only rarely if at all, and if they do happen then they happen in stifled, dissatisfying doses. What's worst is that I'm often so mentally numbed from being talked at for hours and hours that I feel drained and antisocial when it's actually time for some rare, controlled socializing (like during the tightly-timed lunch hour or awkward reception).