Episode #74 Social Media & Socializing with Benjamin Meyer, LCSW-R

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  Benjamin Meyer, LCSW-R specializes in helping English and Spanish speaking individuals and couples with learning differences to manage workplace challenges, relationships, and friendships. He was selected as a social ambassador for the NVLD project in New York City and has published multiple articles, presented at university campuses, and co-presented with Sheri Perlman, OTR LCSW, for the Learning Disability Association of New Jersey. He has been interviewed for podcasts on autism, social media use, and dating by Tosha Rollins, LPC, and on adapting to the workplace with NVLD by Susan Micari, BCET, and Annalisa Perfetto, Ph.D., of Edtherapy NYC. He writes regularly for a blog on his website, benjaminmeyerlcsw.com, and has also co-published in a peer-reviewed journal, The Educational Therapist. He maintains a private practice and he is licensed to see clients in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. He has earned a certificate in psychodynamic psychotherapy from the Institute for Contemporary Psychotherapy, as well as completed the Foundations in Family Therapy and Live Clinical Supervision course at the Ackerman Institute for the Family. Benjamin also offers workshops on developing dating and professional skills for neurodiverse young adults. More information can be found about his services and offerings on his website.
His initial interest in psychotherapy stems from his international experience providing trauma relief to victims of the Salvadoran Civil War and Chilean dictatorship. He also has experience providing culturally informed individual, couple, and family psychotherapy to Spanish speaking clients of all ages, and most recently was invited to speak in Havana, Cuba, regarding family therapy techniques for individuals with learning differences.

Automatic Transcription from Otter.ai

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Hey, everybody, welcome

back to another episode of the autism and action podcast. I'm Tosha. Rollins. And

I'm Chris,

we're so glad to have you here today listening in, we've got another very special guest, we've got Mr. Benjamin Meyer, he's coming all the way from New York, all the way up the East Coast there. We're down here while I'm down here in South Carolina. And Mr. Chris is over in Washington. So we kind of got all the major points going on here on the map. So Benjamin, welcome to the show. Thank you for taking the time to be here today, you've got some awesome information to share with everybody.

Well, thank you for having me. And I really do want to share that this topic and hope it will be helpful for people. And I'm happy to answer any questions as well come up. And tell us a little bit about the topic you'd like to cover today. And if you want to refresh our listeners memory on your background as well. Sure, well, I'm a bilingual psychotherapist and coach. Now based in New York City, I see clients in New Jersey and Pennsylvania as well. And I work with young adults with on the autism spectrum and with nonverbal learning disorder on really creating strategies for making the successful transition socially and professionally after college and graduate school and into young adulthood in general. And today's topic that I was wanting to speak about really comes from both what I've observed and research which is about social media use for young adults on the spectrum and within bld, and how it can really be an effective tool, and a great way to meet others, but also can't really always replace the the possibility of human connection. So I just wanted to really, really put that out there and say that it's not a replacement for it. But it is a

tool to really meet others and make connections. So I think the ways that it's that it's a tool, it's important to remember that not everybody feels comfortable meeting others in big groups or in person. Sometimes the anxiety from that, especially with all the nonverbal cues that are involved, and all the distractions in the environment, it can be really overwhelming for some people to go through that process. And so therefore, when one has a specific interest, looking up groups online, that really meet and share those interests is a great way to sort of gradually people with less pressure involved. So if you're interested in, let's say baseball, and there's a group on baseball, you can write about your favorite pitchers, if somebody really likes the same thing, they can respond by getting ugly, like this picture or that picture. And it's a gradual way of just sort of getting to know somebody, and also having the opportunity to think about what you're going to say, when you respond. So there's not that pressure of real life interaction right away. And I mean, some studies have shown that young adults on the spectrum who use Facebook use social media have a very positive experience, and also can feel happiness and better doing that. So that's a great a great tool in that way. However, it's important to acknowledge that that's not a replacement for meeting people in person. And what I've often said is that, you know, you can use social media as an initial step. And you can keep on connecting with people on social media was busy, they live in different parts of the country. But it's great if at some point, you can have that reciprocity of being able to see their face, like an online video, or meet in person as well, no, that's not right for everybody. But I think it's okay to kind of have that as a goal and work towards that over time. And it doesn't have to comment with any specific timeline. But then when you have that, that that video call, or that in person meeting, eventually, you've already have a basis of what you're building on. And that's the idea is to build that basis in first using social media and then go from there. So it's not all at once. And to also kind of explain that when somebody smiles or somebody cracks a joke in the moment or somebody brings up something from the past, it's a really rewarding experience, to have that in person, as opposed to just going to having to go back and forth online, whether the delay, you're not seeing their body language, etc. So it's kind of that gradual tool in that way. But I think it's important to recognize that for some people, there's a dopamine hit of joy and happiness when they get a like on Facebook, or somebody really makes a comment to them. And that's great. There's nothing wrong with looking for that or having that. But I think it's important to remember that even on social media, there are stages of relationships and there are rules in terms of how much you engage when, under what conditions so you know, somebody may like you Post you made, but that doesn't mean they're automatic, and they may even friend you on Facebook. But that doesn't mean they're automatically your close friend. Right. And making that kind of distinction is really important. And that's why I say there's that building up. Because it's, it's, it's an initial connection, but it doesn't automatically mean that you're in a closed circle with somebody. So if somebody you know, liked your post and send you a friend request, that doesn't mean you start early start acting like, you know that you've known each other for a long time, or that, you know, that that you're ready to reveal personal information. So in that way, it's sort of great to sort of like, practice, okay, they liked my post, maybe I can reach out and say, Hey, what do you like about it, or Thanks for liking my post, it's really nice to meet you. So it kind of is that introduction, introduction, airy process of getting to know somebody, and I think that's gonna be really helpful, using it as a tool. But there's also the value of remembering that, even though that feels great to get those likes, that doesn't replace a real, like interpersonal relationship where there's so many more dynamics and so many more expressions non verbally, and they say cracking jokes, and, you know, kind of just comfort with somebody that you develop in person and feeling like you can reveal things over time. And I think that, that a lot of that does happen in in person or video chat, at least. So is that initial as an initial tool, it's great, but I think it's not a replacement in that way. And, you know, I also think it's important to think about the fact like, just because somebody likes you, like, suppose we're about to your friend, that doesn't mean just like, that doesn't mean they're your friend, necessarily, it also is important to think about what you put out on social media, because sometimes somebody will have very good intentions, but revealing a lot of personal information online, or saying, where it can be seen by a lot of people or

not realizing the impact of listed liking a post where you say, you know, even something very innocent and sweet, like, meaning like, Well, I think, you know, you look like a really, really beautiful or somebody else or something like that nature, well, it's well meaning can be construed in a certain way, you know, can be considered inappropriate or as an advance even if that's not the intention. So thinking about how one interacts and social media, especially in terms of what the perspective is of the other person online, what they're thinking and perspective and what they want to get out of it. And as well as what kind of information is appropriate for me to give out, and what stages of the friendship, are we in is a really important component of that. So that's, that's, that's learning to do that practicing that it's great with a therapist, or you know, or Atocha, or Andrew, anyone who works, we don't know if the veteran like, you know, what is? Where am I? What's other person's perspective? And where am I? What do I want out of it? But what else? Or signals? Are they getting me? And is it appropriate? If I comment about this, you know, so that's something that is really, really important to think about. And I think it can be built, like any skill. And I think that it has to be something that you know, is sort of like can be practiced, and sometimes when when there's more talked about the parents that can bond by working with friends or with a therapist, but you can get better at it. And as you keep practicing, and as you keep going through it, you'll get better at it as the time goes on. So those are kind of the the, you know, the way to approach it. But I also think if there's, you know, there are some real vulnerabilities to cyberbullying, that a lot of young adults, you know, on this spectrum, and maybe more vulnerable to, because if you're revealing too much personal information, or you're not catching the sign, then somebody can try to make fun of you, they can try to use that against you, right, and they'll try to get information from you. So learning those kind of skills to protect yourself, is a really is a really good thing you can research is somebody you've been a real friend, right? Like, how are they a real person online? You know, these are all questions that one can research to protect oneself. And as long as you're as long as you're moving in that way, I think it's a really fine, fine medium to to really sort of introduce things to and also find people with common interests. It's just about using it in a very in a very prudent way and in a very intelligent way, and developing like a skill, like a muscle. And I think once you do that, as you practice it over a certain amount of time, it can be really helpful. I will say that, less less thought that, you know, sometimes we have to articulate to young people like what the difference is between personal Why is there a benefit even to in person relationships, because they may not feel like Well, there's so much anxiety, you know, associated with that. Sometimes, I mean, I feel like is there even a benefit of this for me, you know, to going out and getting offline because I could be rejected I could be I could it could not work out but there is could be a tangible benefit so articulating when somebody smiles and laughs What does that feel like? Or what could that feel like for them? You know, when somebody brings up a subject and says, you know, hey, I was thinking about what we were talking about that was funny and laughs and smiles as well, you know, what is that was that feel like to try to get the benefits of in person contact really, really well. And so part of what we do in my group is, you know, we work a little bit on developing those in person skills by building on the online skill. So for example, with dating, which I was focusing on, it's a lot of it is, you know, you can start by meeting somebody online, but then gradually introduced in meeting them in person, and, and if I can help reduce your anxiety, but you can kind of prep for it, as you kind of have already a basis of an online connection. And that's great, as long as it doesn't become a replacement. So that's basically the the major message that I had for today. Yeah. And if you have any questions, or?

Well, I think those are very insightful, and definitely things that we need to consider engaging online, right? The fact that this is not a replacement for in person, right communication, and all the different considerations that go along with that all the different social roles of engagement, and that practice makes perfect.

Yes, absolutely. Absolutely. And, and, and to know, that, you know, is also as there are safety issues involved, and it's important to really, you know, make sure that, you know, we we take a connection one step at a time, you know, and that we don't have to rush it, you know what I mean? Even if we even if we get really excited, we don't have to rush it, you know, and we can kind of get to know that person over time. Do you find that when people you work with, do end up making that leap to do in person relationship? Do you find that they often feel like it was, it went better than expected? Absolutely. And I think that, you know, it is hard to make that leap, and everyone does it in the same time period. But I think if you also have the see a group that you're part of where you were doing something like, you know, I remember one person I one time ago, I worked with, you know, was doing, you know, Dungeons and Dragons and things like that, and other different other different kinds of elements. You know, if you can kind of identify, let's say, you're part of a group and you have an activity online that you've been doing, when you go in person, you do that activity, that can be a great transition, you know, because you've already done it in law online, so you have some practice with it. And you know, a little bit about the personalities. So that can be a really great way to to get some help. And then, like, would it also be fair to say that like, another good maybe transitionary reverse segue, as opposed to like, cold, basically going into a cold relationship? Yeah. Well, what a good segue be maybe doing something where less talking would be expected in the given setting? Like, yeah. That's absolutely the case. Yeah. Hmm. All right.

Yeah, go ahead.

where can our listeners find you online? How can they connect best with you?

Well, there's a they can call me directly but they're also online. There is my website is Benjamin Meyer lcsw, w calm, so they can call me there, they can contact me via email. And they also will find my phone number. And the best email to reach me at is Benjamin Meyer at learn differently, that hushed calm, which is a HIPAA compliant email so they can email me directly there as well. Awesome.

Thank you again, so much for being here today. Benjamin, is there anything else at all that you want to share with everybody today?

Just the idea that, you know, I think it's, it's like anything, it's a skill that you develop, you know, with practice, and there's a balance that you develop with practice, and I think it can be done and I think it's, it's very possible. So I just want to I just want to show that. It's lots of be positive about it with it as well. Yeah.

Well, thank you again for taking time to be here today, Benjamin.

Thank you for having me. Appreciate it.

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Let's have a discussion in the comments below or head over to the Autism in Action Facebook group. We would love to hear from you!

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