Snake eyes, bedroom eyes, the evil eye… conference eyes. What are conference eyes? We’ve all given them and we’ve all received them. They are the furtive glances we give each other at conferences. More accurately they are the looks we give each other’s nametags.
Students are attempting to spot “celebrities” (look for them at the bar), the suckups are attempting to determine who is and is not worth talking to, some are just desperately trying to get a glimpse at your name (because we forgot it, and damnit your abstract book is in the way and any minute now you are going to notice me and want to chit chat and I am going to feel like an asshole because all I remember and can see of your name is “G”…George? Gabe? Fuck). Some are entertaining themselves by playing “match the author” games. Which is the conference equivalent of analyzing the book and film versions of beloved and/or despised characters (this is particularly entertaining in crowded elevators). Whatever the purpose, the nonstop glancing at chests (if we are dealing with the lanyard variety nametag) or at lapels (pin-on variety nametag) is a widely recognized phenomenon. It is unavoidable. However, may I suggest that we all abandon our nametags and stop with all the conference eyeballing as soon as the last paper for the day is given? Must we flood the bars, restaurants, and city streets with our nerd badges? Once we have escaped the confines of the conference center it is time to put that shit away.