Conferences are exhausting, but I find them quite fun overall. I like the Science and I like the social aspects. There are all sorts of weird socio-political interactions that also occur (or almost occur, or might have occurred but no one is really sure), but there are many interesting interactions and even exhilarating moments. I typically return from conferences tired but also emotionally recharged from the social interactions.
A certain colleague of mine hurls himself into each conference like it is a mosh pit, and emerges broken and ill at the end. He spends days talking loudly, drinking a lot, arguing, not sleeping much, and racing around stressed out and highly caffeinated. He gets very emotionally involved in certain conference sessions, becoming extremely angry at some talks or posters and thrilled by others. He is sort of a moody guy in real life, but nothing like what he is at conferences. In the best case scenario, he loses his voice at a conference. At two recent conferences, however, he had medical problems, although he is very healthy when not at a conference.
I think that, to him, extreme conferencing is the only way to have a really intense conference experience and to feel like he's made an impact on the discussion. In real life, he is Dr. Distinguished Professor Person, patiently explaining things to students and dealing with insane colleagues who don't really understand his research. At meetings, he is surrounded by people with the exact same passion for his field of Science, and hence the bungee-jumping, ice-climbing, sky-diving, demolition derby type conference behavior.
My concern is that what temporarily wrecked him in his Youth will start to be a problem now that he is Middle-Aged (as evidenced by the health problems, one of which required medical attention, at recent conferences). But if he slows down at conferences, will they be as fun?
6 months ago