Our society reached something of a breaking point in 2020. It’s something writers like myself will never stop analyzing for the rest of our lives. The effect the COVID-19 pandemic had on interpersonal relationships is nearly impossible to conceptualize. No one knew how to weather it. In a culture that’s never been more linked together, that’s never been more dependent on community, maybe the worst thing that could’ve happened was for the ability to spend in-person time together to be destroyed virtually overnight.
Still, people are ingenuitive. The resources available in the 21st century certainly helped with the problem, but it required considerable adaptation. What exactly is it you do when suddenly your own neighbors might as well live across the world? It’s a task one group of women in Flagler County took upon themselves to tackle.
In 2020, the Facebook group ‘Ladies of Flagler County’ was launched. It was launched to identify a common need in the community: that all of us are better off with somebody to talk to. “Everyone had a story, some similar and some very different,” the group’s bio says. “Some just moved here, some were planning on moving here, some had been here a while, some were recently divorced, some were widowed, some had friends but wanted to find more things to do, some were…well, let’s just say many variations of ladies, but the one thing everyone had in common was the want or need to meet other ladies.”
The group is up to 6.2k members since its inception in October of 2020. For a local Facebook group, that constitutes a meteoric rise. It started as many things do with an innocuous conversation, friends online wishing there already existed something like it. A tentpole concept of the group is that no negativity is allowed; the focus is uplifting and helping others. The concept is somewhat radical, though it probably shouldn’t be. Negativity sometimes seems to be more engaging, more of a catalyst to engagement. But Ladies of Flagler County might just be working to prove the contrary.
The purpose of Ladies of Flagler County is give women the opportunity to communicate and form new friendships in a time where doing so has never been harder. It serves to flip the script on what role social media plays in our lives – instead of making people less inclined to gather in person, LoFC serves as a springboard for new friendships to begin. The group has even done pen pal events specifically to this end, connecting members through written letters, messenger, and email.
“This group has allowed us to foster relationships,” said moderator Donna Davis. “People were isolated, they didn’t have the opportunity to meet people, and this is really the basis of it.” To that end, the moderators also acknowledge Flagler County’s relatively high suicide rate in a statewide context, and see their group as part of the solution.
Among the group rules are policies of no politics, no self-promotion, and no negativity. It’s an idea that keeps the group from delving into what large Facebook groups often do: places of complaint, bickering, and people eventually getting themselves banned. Which, of course, leads to its own set of drama.
To be clear, you can get banned from LoFC. But it won’t be for frivolous reasons, it’ll probably have been necessary to keep the group from becoming just another place of nastiness and toxicity.
Those looking to join the group can find it on Facebook. And don’t feel limited by the confines of your Facebook account to say hi with the people you wind up meeting. “We’re in line checking out at the grocery store and the lady who’s bagging my groceries says ‘hey, I know you!’,” said moderator Melissa Dunn.
And that’s the beauty of it: creating an online community that enhances your real-life happiness.
Listen to AskFlagler’s full interview with the Ladies of Flagler County moderators here: