Survey: Personal touch wins over online communication

When it comes to social graces, the more things change, the more they stay the same-even in the digital age. That's what a new survey conducted by Yahoo and Decipher, Inc. seems to reveal. The poll questioned 2,587 Americans ages 18-64 about everything from the appropriateness of sending an email thank you after a job interview (62% prefer a handwritten note) to whether it's acceptable to text, email or IM at a restaurant (63% say no).

In a recent interview, I had the opportunity to talk about the rules of web decorum with the consummate tastemaker herself, Martha Stewart. Check out Martha's take on online wedding invitations and email thank you notes by clicking on the video player.

Overall, the survey painted a somewhat ambivalent attitude about the role electronic communication plays in our lives. Here's what we found:

Too much information! Most people said they believe too much information is shared online today. And while 93% of those surveyed say they check email at least few times a week, a majority still prefer to pick up the phone to update their families. Younger and active social media users rely on Facebook and other social networks to stay in touch with friends. But even 54% of the 18-34 year olds polled said nothing is better than the personal touch of a handwritten letter.

Reconnecting with an ex-partner online.
Half say it's inappropriate to reconnect with a former partner through social networking and would consider frequent texting, emailing, or IM-ing with a former love to be tantamount to cheating.

Blurred social boundaries.
In the workplace, people are concerned about the proper social media etiquette. One in 3 people said it's unacceptable to decline a professional colleague's friend invitation. And more than half of those surveyed said they often accept a friend request because they don't want to offend the other person.

No doubt, technology allows us to communicate so immediately and easily that it will continue to shift our interactions both online and off. But if this survey is any indication, there are some time-worn traditions of the way we treat each other and the way we mark special events in our lives that may just stand the test of time. And to me, that's a good thing.

What's your biggest concern or pet peeve about the way we communicate online today?