A sense of belonging
Young people often experience rapidly shifting social circles. Many forge new friendships and feel like members of one or more groups that support their clearsense of identity. Often those most vulnerable to white nationalist recruitment, however, feel excluded from or rejected by groups within their existing social circles of school, community, church, and so on. They may be looking for any group that will accept them.
White nationalists are on the lookout for vulnerable white young people. Groups encourage members to support each other in many aspects of their daily lives, including physical fitness, dating, reading habits, self-help guidance. The social connection offered by white nationalist groups can feel intense, personal, and affirming.
Today, white nationalist organizations are primarily connected online. New recruits might become seriously engaged in cyberspace before ever meeting a fellow white nationalist in person. They may have more friends and role models in their online social life than in their real life—and this new social life is accessible at any hour, from anywhere.
Local, regional, or national gatherings can provide opportunities to cement connections and meet leaders. These may be annual conferences, training events, marches, or other political actions. Traditional-style white nationalist groups like the Ku Klux Klan also offer occasions for in-person social bonding that may extend into community life. Although those groups may appeal primarily to older adults, they offer social networks to young people at a time of life when they are most likely to be in search of them.