To the young couple snuggling in the meeting room during the afternoon session on Awesome Science at the X Conference:
You were sitting in the approximate middle of the room, and there were lots of us cranky old professors sitting behind you, thinking you were being unprofessional and disrespectful of the speaker to have your arms wrapped around each other and to be basically sharing one seat during the session. Although the session was quite well attended, there were plenty of seats for all, so you could have each had your own.
Even some of us who think that academia should be more flexible with respect to work-life balance -- for example, that it's great that parents bring their young children to conferences and that grad students should (occasionally) be allowed to take a vacation or even sleep -- thought that your behavior was inappropriate.
But that's just what I think. Let's ask the readers of FSP:
If you were sitting in a conference session trying to listen to Professor Z present her latest research results and to Dr. Postdoc's inspiring attempt to impress potential employers, and you saw a couple of entwined twentysomethings sitting in front of you, snuggling and sniffing each other's hair and necks, would you:
A. Think it was cute, sigh at the romance, and say "Young love, how special!"?
B. Avert your gaze and focus on the talks?
C. Snort in disgust and be very grateful that these young people were not from your institution?
D. Poke them and/or ask them to go somewhere else? (alternatives: toss something at them or do something else unobtrusive but possibly effective, without disturbing the session)
I went for the gaze-aversion approach, and was mostly successful, particularly during interesting talks. I found it difficult to ignore the snuggling couple completely, though, so as soon as I could, I changed my seat to be on the other side of the room and unable to see them when I was watching the presentations.
Before I could move to another seat, I saw a colleague glance in the direction of the couple and then, when he realized what he was seeing, he looked around and caught my eye. The expression on his face -- amusement, disgust, surprise, all of the above? -- made me laugh, so at least the snuggling couple provided some entertainment.