Talk with anyone who plays tennis and they’ll tell you that in order to improve their game, they have to play against players who are better than they are. Tennis players are ranked on a numeric scale, I’m a 3.0 so I like to play against 3.5 or 4.0 players. In doing so, I like to think my game will improve.
The same is true for photographers. Attend any gathering of photographers and there will always be the bunch of “grumpy old guys” in the corner talking about how things “used to be” and hoping those good old days will come back. Fact is, they won’t. Get as far away from that gang as possible, they’ll only bring you down.