Why Older People Cannot Grasp The New: 1

Almost everybody has their favorite stories about how old people are befuddled by new technology and social mores. Many attribute it to age, brain function, senility etc.. but that is bullshit- as I will soon show.

In my opinion, the assumption that old people’s inability to grasp the new is linked to declining brain function has a major flaw-

Why do small kids and even toddlers have little problems grasping new concepts? If you make the argument that their brain is more plastic, here is my counter question- Do you remember your life as a 1-year old, 3-year old.. 6-year old in any detail? Think about it.. But weren’t your crucial experiences, acquisition of language, basic literacy etc also during that time period.

So why can’t you remember your most crucial learning experiences?

Let me give you an example- Imagine that you are playing a new and novel first-person shooter (FPS) for the first-time. What do you focus on? The maps, meta-objectives or just playing the game? Now imagine playing it from a predominantly third person perspective. What do you focus on? and how do you play it?

FPS games are an immersive experience and you tend to play a novel one without using much of your previous experience with similar games. It is hard to play bioshock 2 like doom 3 or doom 3 like half-life 2. While the basic mechanics are not that different- the style of gameplay is vastly different. In contrast, RPG/strategy type games are very similar to each other in one important respect- they require the player to use a lot of their previous understanding of similar games to play them well.

Remembering things in the third person requires a third person perspective- aka a previous set of mental maps.

Coming back to the topic of this article, there are two types of change- evolutionary and revolutionary.

Evolutionary change includes things such as using word processors instead of type writers, excel instead of visicalc, HDTV instead of CRT based TVs, automatic transmission instead of manual etc. These changes are based on concepts which already existed when older people were growing up and are thus not truly new. Note that these befuddle older people far less than revolutionary changes.

Revolutionary changes are changes for which there are no real precedents. For example- there are no real precedent for e-mail, spam, texting, blogs, malware, selfshots and a host of other things. Similarly there is no real precedent for women’s behavior today. The same can be said about things like the role of financialism in the economy.

Most older people abandon the unstructured,immersive first-person perspective as they “grow up” and “mature”. The reasons behind this have more to do with ego, worldview and projecting competence than any changes in the brain. Grownups abhor uncertainty, even if their version of certainty is full of shit. Children do not abhor uncertainty because they don’t yet have anything to compare it to.

Therefore kids are more likely to explore, look around and test various aspects of a novel system rather than stick to one path. The lack of previous mental maps and excessive attachment to a previous world view makes them far more willing to do so.

They are also far less invested in sticking to the old ways, if something better comes along.The worldview of older people is based on an interlinked set of “facts” which they “know” to be optimal. Disturbing one “fact” can set of a chain-reaction capable of destroying other parts of their world view.

For example: acknowledging that their average 15-year-old daughter willingly send nekkid pictures of herself to guys she barely knew undermines many of their cherished ideas about how average women behave and think like. Similarly a POV blowjob shot of her makes them confront the possibility that there is no fundamental difference between a porn star and their average daughter. Most people cannot bear such thoughts.


  1. June 11, 2011 at 8:12 pm

    I’m shocked. you play video games? I thought you would be “above” such pastimes….

    The answer, my “friend” is mushrooms.

  2. Commander Shepard
    June 11, 2011 at 9:52 pm

    Excellent analysis as always.

  3. Deus
    June 12, 2011 at 8:29 am

    How many guys over forty know what a “Doom” is?

    Hehe. Nice video game references. And true too.

  4. June 12, 2011 at 9:05 am

    I have noticed this especially among married men even the young ones (late 20s-early 30s).

  5. June 12, 2011 at 9:10 am

    Off topic, check these Indian white-knights

    • June 12, 2011 at 6:42 pm


      funny how it says indian girl slapped when she hit him first….. the double standards….

      personally, I would spit in her face.

  6. Ryu
    June 12, 2011 at 6:03 pm

    Ah, that’s cute! My hero!

    I think that only a small percentage of men will actuall hear and understand what Game really is. Everyone, including myself, was so concerned back in 2005 when Style released “The Game”. Probably the only man in that studio who has a chance with that chick is the guy who slapped her.

  7. June 12, 2011 at 6:51 pm

    so Mr. Diaboli, are your escorts as hawt as this lady:

  8. Webe
    June 13, 2011 at 2:02 am

    What people often refer to as character works kind of like one of those toddler toys: you can’t get the square pieces through the triangular or round holes. Any information which doesn’t fit is routinely discarded. That’s why it very rarely happens that people change their mind about anything on the basis of new information or new concepts, no matter how overpowering or contradictory. Once set, people’s character is often rigid as a cast.
    People who are open to change — don’t forget that taking in new paradigms and information will change who you are significantly — not only have to overcome the natural resistance to change and abondoning your comfort zone, they are also viewed as childlike, malleable, lacking in strength of character and singularity of purpose. The “Camel” hero is unaffected by any shit people throw up and is solitary in his unwavering strength and purpose.

    So I agree strongly. It’s not senior befuddlement, invulnerability to change is very much a social (and psychological) construct.

    Incidentally, I’ve noticed the absolute flattest learning curve is professors trying to use computers. Professors were usually not the hero of the school playground — they exacted revenge at a later stage of life. Terrified by again appearing weak or incompetent, they can only learn by extending certainties, not by plain old mixing it up and exploring. At the same time, they look down at it as something for common folk, like the secretries they really deserve to type up their hand-written scribbles, as in by-gone era’s. Though they think they’re lacking in a few how-to’s (what’s the point of wasting your valuable time learning something so simple and physical as what button to press) they in fact are usually missing the picture, conceptually. Nothing to flatten the learning curve like the combination of fear and contempt: give me janitors or canteen ladies any day.

  9. doclove
    June 13, 2011 at 3:56 am

    Actually, their 15 year old daughter is worse than the pornography actress if their 15 year old daughter knowingly had nude pictures or movies taken of them; and, she is even more foolish if she sends for someone else to view instead of securing the pictures or film. At least the pornography actress had enough sense to get paid. Otherwise this is a good article though.

  10. Susan
    June 14, 2011 at 6:15 am

    Very good points. I am 52 and find that attitude is everything about getting older. Older people who stubbornly refuse to embrace technology are all about ego and pride. It has nothing to do with ability to learn and everything to do with attitude.

  1. June 12, 2011 at 1:02 am

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: