Are Ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses Really Just a Bunch Of No Good Apostates? Here Are 5 Ways We Can Prove The Watchtower Society Wrong.

apostate website

By now, most ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses (or Exxers) have noticed the Watchtower Society’s talent for hyperbole. The Society often depicts “worldly people” as bad associates who choose to dwell in a Satanic world of robbery, lies, and murder. While Jehovah’s Witnesses are portrayed as good, steadfast, and honest to a fault, always struggling to save an unappreciative world from itself. Rarely does the Society show us the middle ground where both sides actually dwell. Many Jehovah’s Witnesses really do take this point of view seriously. They may even start to wonder about the sort of person who would leave the Watchtower Society’s perfect world for the one that’s just outside their Kingdom Halls. In my experience, their conclusions about Exxers aren’t very pretty. To many Jehovah’s Witnesses, we’re all just a bunch of miserable apostates out to ruin their chance for eternal life in a paradise Earth. Are the Witnesses right about us? Even more importantly, are we doing more to prove them right than prove them wrong?

How To Be A Good Ex-Jehovah’s Witness

By “good” ex-Jehovah’s Witness, I’m talking about an Exxer who’s happy and who disproves the Society’s stereotypes about those who’ve left their Kingdom Halls. Basically, Jehovah’s Witnesses want to see an Exxer who’s sad, lonely, and miserable. They want to see someone who reaffirms their own belief that life outside the Society isn’t worth living and that the sacrifices Witnesses are making for the organization are worthwhile. So a good Exxer is happy, well adjusted, and makes Witnesses work overtime to find that higher ground they were hoping for.

Here are five ways that ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses can prove that life outside the Watchtower Society can be better than it ever was inside.

1. Good Exxers aren’t angry or bitter

angry dude

Many Exxers are angry when they first leave the organization. Some are especially angry because they were booted out (disfellowshipped) and now their family won’t speak to them. This is completely understandable and they have a right to be angry. It’s also a waste of time and energy.

The sooner you work through being angry, the sooner you can start to move on. The Society took a lot of your time and energy when you were a card carrying member. If you’re angry and looking for a way to strike back, then you’re still wasting a lot of time and energy on the Society! Why not put it to good use by investing it in a better life for yourself instead of wasting it on the organization? That bitterness will weigh you down. Just let it go, man.

2. Good Exxers don’t lash out blindly at the Society or Jehovah’s Witnesses

You can find a lot of videos on YouTube of people harassing Bethelites or other Witnesses at conventions. You can also find web sites that publish every available conspiracy theory or tidbit of bad press involving Jehovah’s Witnesses to smear their reputation. This sort of Society-bashing does two things. First, it gets devoured by angry Exxers (see item #1 above) looking for more to be angry about. That’s not good. Second, it actually helps the very organization these people are trying to hurt.

Protesters, rumor mongers, and attack hounds who go after the Society only make it seem sympathetic. They also encourage curiosity where none existed, leading people to wonder what all the fuss is about. This earns the Society a little free press and makes Exxers look bad generally. By acting crazy, we’re showing Jehovah’s Witnesses that we really are as dangerous and unpredictable as the Society claims. What’s the good in that?

I’m not saying we shouldn’t criticize the Society (I do it all the time) but we should do so based on facts and reason and avoid rumors or exaggeration. Non-Witnesses won’t listen to us if we seem crazier than the Society’s representatives, and neither will any Witness friends or family. This sort of behavior will only drive them deeper into the organization’s embrace and further away from us.

3. Good Exxers stand up to Jehovah’s Witnesses who bully them (and they do it well)

No bullies allied
You don’t have to beat
the crap out of them…
though it sure would feel
good sometimes.

I’ve written a lot about how Exxers can defend themselves from Witnesses who aggressively try to convert or bully us. This can be especially hard to deal with when it’s an overbearing mother or father figure we respect. Even worse, the Witness’s bad behavior can cause us to behave just as badly in return. As I’ve said many times before, the trick to these confrontations is simple: it isn’t about convincing them you’re right. You cannot and will never convince them of that. So when Mom or Elder Scowls-A-Lot bangs on your front door, don’t bother with this approach because you’ll lose. Whether they know they’re doing it or not, they really love to shame us when we lose. Don’t do that to yourself.

Instead, just stand up for your point of view and don’t let them tell you what you’re thinking. You’re the authority on that. Don’t lose your cool. Let them get upset if they want–and they might. It’s frustrating when we refuse to cower before them like the Society’s script says we should. But if you’re patient and always take the high road, then you’ll come out of these interventions just fine. That’s really all you have to do.

Ultimately, you will only get one positive thing from these confrontations: the opportunity to assert your right to make up your own damn mind in the face of their opposition. An hour or so of field service should be the only positive you allow them to have in return. Never let them shame you, stomp on you, or use you to feel better about themselves. Otherwise, you’re only encouraging their bad behavior at your expense. Remember, you’re never wrong just because they or the Watchtower Society say you are. Make sure they know it too.

4. Good Exxers help and support other Exxers

support others

The flip side of #2 (Don’t lash out blindly at the Society) is good old #4. If you want to do something proactive and positive with your experiences as a former Jehovah’s Witnesses, then help other Exxers get on with their lives. Or, depending on where you are in your recovery, maybe they can help you get on with yours. It sure beats fanning the flames of anger in others. You can do this from the chair you’re sitting in. Just go to any one of the many Ex-Witness forums online. I highly recommend Moxie’s new site. There’s also good old JWD. There are plenty of others. I’ve even tossed around the idea of creating a forum here at Atheist Geek News … some day.

5. Good Exxers aren’t in a rush to fill the void

hole in heart

I can’t tell you how many former Jehovah’s Witnesses I’ve met who’ve left the Society only to wind up in another, similar group. Seriously … why jump from one authoritarian sect only to land in another? Please, at the very least, look before you leap. Don’t scramble to find another hard core religion three months after your last meeting at the Kingdom Hall. Take time to process it all. In my view, you shouldn’t seriously consider another religion until you’ve broken down your experiences with the Society and figured out the all important question: how exactly did it go wrong?

Could you explain your motives and reasoning for leaving the Society to another person so they could fully understand it? If not, then you probably don’t understand it as well as you think. Being one of Jehovah’s Witnesses isn’t just following a belief system, it’s a way of life and a world view wrapped up in single package. One that you’ve just lost. You need time to build your own way of life and to figure out who you are without the organization leading you by nose. This will take time to figure out. Probably years.

Patience is a virtue, so take your time. Heck, many of us never chose another religion (I am the Atheist Geek, after all) and we’re quite happy about it. I know I am. But that one’s up to you.

About The Atheist Geek

The Atheist Geek is a former Jehovah’s Witness turned secular humanist. He’s a lifelong sci-fi geek and a writer wannabe.

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39 Responses to Are Ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses Really Just a Bunch Of No Good Apostates? Here Are 5 Ways We Can Prove The Watchtower Society Wrong.

  1. Heidi says:

    Excellent! I agree.

  2. Selena says:

    That was awesome!! Very well stated. Thank you so very much for this. This information was very helpful. I really appreciate the part about being able to explain why you have left. That is the hardest part for me.

    Again, thank you so much for what you do.

    -Selena

  3. To Heidi: Thanks for the comments.

    To Selena: Hi Selena. Yeah, explaining my reasons was a tough one for me too. It really took years before I could nail it all down and articulate it, especially in the face of JW certitude. Constant nagging by my JW in-laws really drove me to keep trying. I’ve been puttering around with an essay that goes into details about it. Maybe I’ll post it when it’s done.

  4. Dave Jones says:

    Thanks for that view. I am inactive, however I have spent a lot of time lokoing everywhere for the ‘What do I do now” question. It seems a lot of ppl are pissed, and rightly so, but I am not interested in reading testimonials right now. I have no bitterness in my heart for any of them individually, as I think they are comprised of some very honest hearted and loving people. My issues is mainly of a doctrinal nature, and I am really trying to grasp what happened to the last 20 years I was involved. I appreciate this insight, and it has helped me.

    Thank You

    DJ

  5. dinah says:

    hey thanks atheist geek – this article has been just what i needed!

    i’m 26, have left “the truth” and pretty much feel like I’m just starting out in life but its nice to read a positive spin on things and I’m viewing this now as a great opportunity

    thanks!

  6. IMO, that’s exactly what it is, dinah: an opportunity. Get out in the real world and explore the possibilities that are open to you now. Shockingly, there’s a lot more than just sex, drugs, and rocknroll.

    Good luck. And thanks for commenting.

  7. Wayne Rogers says:

    Great comments. I try to advise newly exiting jws similarly.

  8. Christopher L. Chambers says:

    You made a lot of good points but, I like my anger. I grow up a JW and took the plunge when I was 19 years old. I was told time and time again that being angry or mad was wrong so growing up I always had to have a smile and was a good little JW. I am not angry because they DF me or the fact that I can’t talk to my mom and dad the way I can talk to my best friend I am angry for what they put me through all the abuse of every kind especially the sexual.

    • If you want to stay angry at them, that’s up to you, Chris. I found it a waste of time and energy, so my advice leans in that direction. (Not that all of my commentators get that.) If you lash out or try to trash the WTS, just remember that you are helping them more than hurting them. Keep that in mind.

  9. John Hoyle says:

    Hey Geek! You are so right about everything you’ve stated in this article and others. Those of us who are out and are sure about our choice to leave the JWs, eventually regain our confidence and the correctness of our decision to leave.

    I want to comment on two of your excellent points.

    1. Being angry at the JWs – The rank and file are just trying their best to be good Christians. For the most part, the vast majority are really good people and I applaud them for that. I would trust most JWs with my house keys and wallet. So how can we be mad at them? They are deluded and ignorant about the very things they claim to be experts on, but that does not make them bad people. Always keep your heart and arms open to them.

    2. Filling the void – You are so right. Many of our ex-JW friends have left the Watchtower and then immediately moved into another church – or as two very prominent ex-JWs have done, form their own. It seems like they need to be in a church environment to remain happy and fulfilled. You are absolutely right: Exes should give themselves time after they leave to let their systems clear of all religious influences. After a year or so, then go and research and try other churches if you want. But to move from a Kingdom Hall into a church is insanity and self-defeating.

    BTW – I will put up a link to your site on mine. Great looking site with lots of excellent writing. Good job!

    • Thanks a lot for the kind remarks, John. And the link. They’re always appreciated.

      It’s interesting that you mentioned my comments on being angry at JWs since I recently had another comment from someone saying they intended to stay angry. I can’t exactly blame people for feeling angry and even acting out. It just doesn’t seem to do anyone much good … except the Society. It makes them look like the good guys and keeps pushing JWs back into its protective embrace. So hanging on to that anger is worse than futile.

      I do think we can hold an individual JW accountable for bad behavior, though. Even if they claim they’re doing it because Jesus (or the WT) commands it. I just don’t think holding on to a broad, “I hate everything that is connected to the Tower” kind of anger serves any useful purpose.

      Anyway, thanks again.

  10. OmJ!are you fuckin serious ha! Sounds like someone didn’t learn shit and is
    Now cryin like a big damn baby with drooling lips hahahaha!!!!!!boohoo
    Woes me!!!keep cryin dumbass you know as well as I how close it is but
    By all means keep being an apostate ignorant!!

    • Thank you for your thoughts and your consideration. Most Witnesses who come here lose their cool and hurl childish, knee jerk insults at me, often without even reading what the articles they’re commenting on. Thus, they only reaffirm my opinions about them in a public place where all can see. But you, kind sir, have reminded us that most Witnesses aren’t that stupid.

      Right?

      So, with your brilliant exposition and constructive criticism–not to mention a truly brilliant name like “what the fuck ever”–I am forced to remember that only the very worst of JWs would stoop that low. Thanks for restoring my faith in humanity as I ponder the deeper meaning of your post.

      Thanks, bro. I might even go back to my old KH and see what perfection is like all over again. I might meet other excellent people like yourself there. Which would be awesome. Yeah, you’ve really changed my life with that one.

      Thanks again. Please come back whenever you can.

    • B.W. says:

      WTFE,

      Oh, real mature using profane language to get your point across. Isaac is not acting like a crybaby with ‘drooling lips’. Your the one complaining. He does not know how ‘close it is’ and neither do you. He is not an ‘ignorant apostate’. He is a former JW but at least he doesn’t go on JW-themed forums are call people mean and nasty names.

      I wonder what the leaders of your church congregation would say if they saw you use such language. Most fundamentalist denominations of Christianity including the JW’s do not permit their members to use profane language at all. I disagree as people have freedom of speech , at least in the US they do but calling people profane names is unecessary and is one reason I don’t like the JW’s who act like you.

      I personally don’t agree with most of the JW’s beliefs or practices but I still think most of them are good people anyways. I am happy I am not a JW as I wouldn’t want to end up like you. Most JW’s would probably disagree with your behavior on this website. It is wrong of you to go around and threatening former members of your Christian denomination by saying that your god will annihilate them during the ‘end of the world’ which I personally don’t believe in. It’s not your place to judge and you probably shouldn’t be on this website in the first place since the leaders of the WBTS do not want their members to go on websites, forums or blogs run by former members.

      You give the JW’s and all religion a bad name and even tarnish the already negative reputation of fundamentalist Christians eveywhere. You have alot of growing up to do , buddy. It’s nice to see that you use your religion to make yourself look like a total jackass.

  11. Dave Jones says:

    LOVE that response..

  12. Thanks Dave. I’d like to say that I don’t think that all Witnesses are stupid or anything like that. Every group has its best, and its worst. Guess which category this person fell in when they flipped out?

    I think some of them just fly into a rage when they see the title and feel like kicking a puppy or something. I admit it wasn’t a glowing review of JWs, but it wasn’t totally evil either. It was about XJWs, not them.

    Oh well.

  13. Joel Gunz says:

    Hi Geek –

    Loved your article, and there are lots of good points.

    I agree with Christopher, however, that anger has a wonderful place in the ex-Witness life. While there is some good in the JW community, the abuses trump all that, and are, in fact ourageous. I would argue that, as such, an appropriate reaction is outrage. The main thing is to know what you’re angry at. Is it the people or the organization, or isn’t it rather the abuses themselves? You can use that anger to do good and effect change in the world, by supporting groups such as Amnesty International, or, if it’s your thing to work to expose JW abuse. That, in my view is a healthy use of anger. I do agree, though, that bitterness and resentment (a form a gut-wrenching masturbation) aren’t all that helpful.

    So, in that light, I can’t support the thought that “Good exxers aren’t angry or bitter.” (A) I disagree with the point, and (B) the good vs. bad moralizing. I got enough of that from the Watchtower.

    For what it’s worth, I wrote a little post about anger here: http://exjehovahswitnessportland.blogspot.com/2010/04/what-am-i-supposed-to-do-with-all-this.html

    My favorite point of yours, on the other hand, is regarding all the blind lashing out about weird conspiracy theories etc. When the WT accuses of apostates of resorting to half-truths and lies this is what they’re talking about.

    Cheers my friend,

    Joel Gunz

  14. James Clarke says:

    Atheist Geek, you make some really good points, I love what you wrote, keep up the good work.

    1 suggestion though, perhaps you should stop dear Brother what the fuck ever from posting here. His slick, well thought out, well constructed arguments may make me want to go back to the witnesses.

  15. Joel,

    You can certainly agree or disagree with that one. I still think there are degrees of being angry or bitter about the past, and too much is always worse than getting over these feelings. But my real point was that you aren’t exactly helping yourself to move on with your life if you’re still that hung up on the WTS. It’s better for you to get over it rather than remain hung up on to it–even if you can’t get completely past it. You can do just as many positive things without letting those feelings stay with you all the time.

    Everyone’s entitled to anger or bitterness, especially when it’s deserved. No need to defend that part. But I don’t see it as the best use of your life or energy in and of itself. Some people are all about their hang-ups from the past and can’t move beyond them.

  16. Hi James. Thanks for the compliments. And yeah, I almost got some of wife’s Watchtowers out and thought about going back to the KH myself after Brother What-the-fuck ran me through the latest battery of conversion techniques. ::Wink::

    Keep reading. I’ll keep writing as long as I have a web connection. 🙂 I’ve got a few projects I’m trying to get up and running right now. Maybe even a podcast. (Gasp!)

  17. Hey Joel, I wanted to come back to your comment again. I wrote my other response at 3:30 this morning before I went to work and thought I’d add something.

    My way of framing this article–as in, good versus bad ex-JWs–was more about getting people to read the post than it was to pass judgment. Certain titles and certain ideas tempt people more than others to read. I don’t mind stirring the waters a little bit, as you may have noticed from time to time. As you can also see, this article has more comments than probably any other that I’ve written.

    Still, you have me thinking that maybe I should add a little something at the end about that. Not a bad point. Thanks.

  18. Joel Gunz says:

    Sure, I see your point.

    I often see XJWs who insist that they’ve “moved on” from the past, yet clearly haven’t — and are instead suppressing it. In those cases, the anger still comes out, not always in very productive ways.

    I think that the mix-up occurs when people confuse feelings with hang-ups. Hang-ups should be examined and processed, with a good therapist, if possible. But feelings? Eh, they just are. You can’t will them away. Why would you even want to? Here’s one of my favorite quotes from Thich Nhat Hanh:

    “Just like our organs, our anger is part of us. When we are angry, we have to go back to ourselves and take good care of our anger. We cannot say, ‘Go away, anger, I don’t want you.’ When you have a stomachache, you don’t say, ‘I don’t want you stomach, go away.’ No, you take care of it. In the same way, we have to embrace and take good care of our anger.”

    Paradoxically, proponents of the “just get over your anger” philosophy are some of the angriest people I know. (Present company excluded, of course.) Since many XJWs have really been “abused and thrown about like sheep without a shepherd” by the Borganization, I’d say the emphasis might be better placed on healing and love, rather than glib advice to get past this or that feeling.

    Well, so much for my $.02.

    Cheers. BTW, I’m known as the Alfred Hitchcock Geek in some online circles. Thought that might amuse you.

  19. Simon R Humphries says:

    Jehovah Witness maintain a considerable “secular” community much like the jews do. Reasons could be anything from, say. . .Struggling with faith based issue, i.e. such as the infamous made much of “blood issue”. Or their are not enough leadership positions and person in question has “Absorbed enough light”, and can now stay home if they desire so to. Some are the kids of well to do JW’s that still work in their parents business concerns, yet have no part in kingdom hall activities. Even ones that have been disfellowshipped and lets say. . Sell drugs, still will take orders from the JW hirarchy (I know this 4 a fact) They have some interesting “rackets” such as where I live in Adelaide S.A. their teenage sons ran (were) the graffiti gangs thru the 1980’s to the present, and the official JW’s would run the Graffiti removal businesses, and in return 4 this the said “apostate youth” would be free to shoplift from Coles “New World” supermarket chain stores to their hearts content, which they, i.e. JW’s largley run and operate and staff here in Australia. They also have a deal going with other denominations such as Mormons and others to hire some of their kids and vice versa so it doesnt all look like nepotism i.e. just hiring there own, Mormons run the woolworths here down under by the way. The state Psychiatric department here cooperate in helping them convert specially picked “marks”, usually the awkward callow sons of middle class secular parents that are of non masonic family lines, and if they can get the conversion they will arrange a marraige with one of their girls , this is usually done for get a free house out of them , divorce and knock of convert and re- marry girl to someone born in the truth, this wont happen often tho because it is not easy to succsessfuly effect but they do enjoy degrading and destroying said families all the same. I dont know about in “your neck of the woods , but here in OZ these people are largley of jewish extraction. . .sacripant.

  20. James Clarke says:

    I think Simon R Humphries is a little whacked. I am from Australia and let me assure you, the JW’s do not run Coles and the Mormons do not run Woolworths. Simon mentions Coles New World. The supermarket is not called Coles new World any more, it changed to Coles Supermarket in 1991 and just Coles in 1998. I used to work for them when I was a JW and let me assure you, it was very hard to get time of for the convention, which would not be the case if they were JW run.

    Simon is either a little whacked of he has smoked way too much pot.

  21. James Clarke says:

    lol

  22. Anthony Zarola says:

    The anger is real. the reasons are justified by our Lord Jesus.
    The ability to control anger directed at Satan’s Organization on earth can be even more difficult at times. But I have discovered that when we direct our JOY of being OUT from them, towards the teaching of others about their lies, false prophesies, and unscriptural shunning and beliefs, well,…..things start looking up. Anger is not good for the heart if it manifests itself in destructive acts, external, or internal.
    FOCUS your anger into a channel of good. We were taught how to talk to others courageously at one time in our lives? Yes, now is the time to speak out with true conviction concerning the lies and false teachings of this cult. Be brave, don’t mis-behave!

  23. James Clarke says:

    Our Lord jesus? Your lord Jesus perhaps, certainly not mine.

  24. Anthony Zarola says:

    Jesus became flesh to represent us as our King. He knows we will become angry, and rightfully indignant as regards the teachings of proclaimed Christian organizations who mis-quote, and mis-represent him.

    Jesus demonstrated his displeasure at the money-changers, and the pharisees who dominated his sheep, much like the elders do in the Jehovah’s Witness organisation.

    Jehovah’s Witnesses are led by demonic inspiration, not Holy Spirit, therefore our anger directed at their lying teachings is justified, and shared by OUR LORD, Jesus. I am sorry you view Jesus’ role as passive. He is our instructor, and our only true example…”Be wrathful, but do not sin”.

    No, Our Jesus is a warrior King.

  25. Anthony Zarola says:

    You folks here are demonstrating your displeasure with Jehovah’s Witnesses as well as contributing to the “healing process” that is imperitive for mental, physical, and spiritual health, regardless if that is in regards to athiesim, or any brand of religious persuasion…..you are rightfully expressing your opinion as to the controlling, domineering, and damaging effect they have on the lives of people searching for simple happiness.

    I appreciate the lines of thought here, I also appreciate the reasonableness of the members here to allow others to express their opinions. Thank you.

  26. Anthony,

    I do try on all the counts you mentioned. Not all Witnesses are as polite or understanding about it. Of course, my sense of humor probably gets me into trouble with them from time to time, too. Thanks for your comments and compliments.

    I will point out that I don’t agree with everything you’ve said. I have my doubts about demons inspiring anything, for instance. (I’m an atheist and very secular minded.) Still, you have a right to a point of view. I’ve let everyone comment here who ever wanted to post … unless I thought their post was spam by mistake. Sometimes, it’s hard to tell. 🙂

    The feelings of XJWs toward the Society are certainly understandable and justifiable on a lot of levels. But I do think, in the long run, we’re better off moving forward than always looking back angrily at the WTS. That remains my best long term advice for all exxers. As others have said, the best revenge is to live well.

  27. P.S.–

    Anthony,

    Not to put too fine a point on it, but you are being a touch presumptuous in saying “*our* lord Jesus.” It doesn’t offend me, but I can understand how it rubs many atheists the wrong way. Especially ones with evangelical family/friends. We’re the most likely to balk at stuff like that.

    Have you ever had a JW friend/relative tell you something like, “But since we both know it’s the truth…” Maybe that made you feel somewhat the same way. They asserted that you agreed with them when you didn’t. They pulled into a group you didn’t belong to. See what I mean?

    If you’re goal is to reach across the aisle with an open hand to nonbelieving XJWs, you might want to tone that down a little. Not berating you, just offering something to consider.

    Peace.

  28. Anthony Zarola says:

    OMG! I did not give that a consideration when I started posting…I do apologise for not channeling my thoughts in retrospect. I can understand the misgivings about my presumptuous posts. I have not encountered a “non-believer’s site” before, so I will tone it down. All said, you guys have some fine ideas, and I guess I do understand how, and why many are completly turned off and away by religion as a whole. I will be sensitive to your posts. Thanks for not tanking me guys.

  29. Anthony Zarola says:

    Scratch that “OMG” too…

  30. James Clarke says:

    OMG is ok. I say OSEG, or Oh Someone else’s God. Works for me.
    Just a small point though, you said “in regards to athiesim, or any brand of religious persuasion.” I have to point out that atheism is not a religios persuasion. If it were, then baldness would be a hair colour!

  31. Anthony Zarola says:

    Then whatever it is, that “persuaded” 1/2 of my hair to “leave the rest of group”, that’s the power I now believe in…….! “As a forrest that has been thinned, the former lushness has passed away, but where only thickettes were once observed, now wider, more discernable pathways to deeper understanding now exist”….Yeah, I must have been the “wild-hair” that was up the rear of some elders opinion….oh-well….Pluck him!

  32. Pingback: Elder Pearson Asks Mormons To Stay By The Tree, No Matter What! » Recovering Agency: Lifting the Veil of Mormon Mind Control

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