“Back in my day.” The old, grumpy complainers.

Everyday I met people in my job that complain. They fall into one demographic “old.”

Why do “old” and “complainers” go hand in hand in the same sentence?

Let’s break it down and look at psychology of old baby boomer complainers that won’t go away and are stuck in their ways:


The Psychology of Lev Vygotsky:


Lev Vygotsky was a soviet psychologist that believed in culture affecting cognitive development.

We need to start with a child’s mind to get to the older mind’s.

According to Vygotsky (1978), much important learning by the child occurs through social interaction with a skillful tutor. The tutor may model behaviours and/or provide verbal instructions for the child. Vygotsky refers to this as cooperative or collaborative dialogue. The child seeks to understand the actions or instructions provided by the tutor (often the parent or teacher) then internalises the information, using it to guide or regulate their own performance.

As the child becomes more competent, the father allows the child to work more independently. According to Vygotsky, this type of social interaction involving cooperative or collaborative dialogue promotes cognitive development.

The concept of the More Knowledgeable Other is integrally related to the second important principle of Vygotsky’s work, the Zone of Proximal Development.

This is an important concept that relates to the difference between what a child can achieve independently and what a child can achieve with guidance and encouragement from a skilled partner.

Vygotsky's zone of proximal development

For example, the child could not solve the jigsaw puzzle (in the example above) by itself and would have taken a long time to do so (if at all), but was able to solve it following interaction with the father, and has developed competence at this skill that will be applied to future jigsaws.

Vygotsky (1978) sees the Zone of Proximal Development as the area where the most sensitive instruction or guidance should be given – allowing the child to develop skills they will then use on their own – developing higher mental functions.

In my understanding and speaking to people who have studied Vygotsky’s theories they say:

The child’s brain develops to those around it socially because by themselves the child would not have cognitive movement forward.

As the child grows into adulthood, guidance from others helps the adult. The adult still has their worldview but can still learn from the world around them.

Here’s where it becomes interesting:

The older person’s brain power and cognitive brain function is slowing down and cannot accept new ideas. The person tries to or wants to but their brain rejects ideas based on what was fed to them in their adult lives as a forty year old. An example could be abortion rights. Abortion thirty years ago was a big no and backyard abortions took place in certain countries. Present day, people have rights and want to choose abortion. Yet the older 70 year old will not be able to accept that new idea and find comfort, and stability in their forty year old worldview of abortion is wrong. The 70 year old will complain and moan because life isn’t what it was because “Back in my day..”

You’ll find them on talkback radio, in libraries and  families hogging time away from real communication that could take place.




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