I tell my characters to put a sock in it. If I mention the economy in the manuscript, there’s no promise that the crisis will still be happening at the May 2010 publication date. (Wouldn’t it be great if it wasn’t?)
And the crisis should definitely be over in a couple of years. So I could really date my book by mentioning current events.
I’m also careful to make only vague references to the type of technology my characters are using. While it’s fine to say my character is on the computer, I don’t want them to say they’re on Facebook or Twittering. Who knows what the cool social media application will be in five years?
Sometimes I’ll discover a new author and will check out their first book from the library. While I still enjoy books that make references to new-fangled VCRs and 8-tracks, it does pull me out of the novel for a few minutes.
With any luck, people will still be reading my books in libraries for years to come---I just want to make sure readers aren’t getting a blast from the past when they do.