A particularly annoying trait has crept into common parlance in the last decade. Friends and colleagues might mock my pedantry but, today, I’ve had enough.
En route to buy a sandwich, I overheard a woman squawking into her phone. She used the term I’ve come to loath so casually, so confidently, brazenly getting the English language wrong. It felt like she knew how much its utterance would get my goat.
“I got inboxed…”
Inbox. Used as a verb.
Despite sounding like a particularly invasive punishment (it always is to my ears), the simple fact remains that one cannot be “inboxed”, nor can you inbox someone.
An inbox is a receptacle for messages, not the act of messaging itself. You don’t ask people to “letter box” you with a postcard.
I blame stupidity, laziness and Facebook.
Take a look on your News Feed and you’ll see it, from those you respect as well as the morons you can’t quite bring yourself to unfriend:
“Rare first edition Oxford English Dictionary for sale. Inbox me for details”.
Unlike text messaging, WhatsApp, email and even voicemail, all of which have inboxes, Facebook had an inbox before launching its Messenger service. You sent a message on Facebook to a person’s Facebook Inbox. That’s where I believe all this “inboxing” nonsense came from.
Facebook had an inbox, however. It no longer exists, yet “inboxing” still pervades otherwise sensible communication terminology.
As a writer, I should be lauding the evolution of language. Marveling at the way a new verb has been formed via consumer technology and trotting out hackneyed arguments about Shakespeare’s contribution to the dictionary we know today.
But I can’t.
Where new words like Dadbod, Manspreading and Bingewatch are truly new and mean something unique, the word Inbox already has a place in the English language. Its meaning is so closely related to the bastard verb formed from it that its use simply implies ignorance.
People know they mean to say “message” or “IM” when they say inbox, they just choose not to. And that’s the bit that bugs me.
You may disagree. If so, send me a message on Facebook, email or call me but, please, never inbox me.