One thing I try to avoid when I'm writing is the use of current figures of speech. Not only slang, but also constructions like the title of this post. I know people tend to blog the way they talk in real life (I do, and you can see now why I have so few friends), but for me at least there's a difference between the way I speak and the way I write on teh internets and the way I write prose fiction. A lot of it has to do with the fact that my fictions tend to be based in the past, but when I write short stories, most of them are about action in the current time. Even then, I try to scrupulously avoid modern cliches and slang.
For one thing, slang seems to go out of date pretty quickly. A great deal of "the new smalltalk" (as Henry Higgins calls it) is disseminated through our culture via television shows, and those come and go rapidly enough. Though I do wish "shiny" for "cool" from Firefly had caught on at large. Alas. I digress, though. Slang and au courant constructions date books, and I think that means that they don't age well. Even a fairly well respected book like Kerouac's "Subterraneans," while still kind of shiny, is also embarrassingly doofy in the use of slang, cats and kittens.
But I know that a lot of fiction is written for immediate consumption and the shelf life is not projected into the coming decades for future generations. A lot of stuff is written to be consumed and discarded and replaced by new stuff next year or next season or next fall, and so slang or neologisms that will date books don't really matter, just as 100 years from now nobody will care that the way hippies talked on "Dragnet" is ridiculous. I mean, it was foolish and inaccurate then, but it gets increasingly hysterical as the years pass, and nobody can take Joe Friday seriously either. Again, I digress. It's early, I've had no coffee and I'm getting a cold, so be kind.
In the fiction I write, I will use slang from those time periods, but it's pretty much set dressing and clearly for characterizations. I'm still not sure how I feel about that (it might just be a gimmick, in which case I know where the "delete" key is to be found on my keyboard). But I know that I won't have one of my characters say, "Just. Stop. That. Right. Now." because that's a construction I expect to go away within a few years. I also won't have my characters say "scoop" for "pick up in a car" or "roll me up" for "drop me off in your car at some destination" or "hip to" for "inform about." There's this album by David Bowie from 1975 (I think) called "Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars" which is a great album, but really, it's just doofy sometimes. "Freak out in a moonage daydream, oh yeah." That's not the sort of thing I want to look back upon in my own work.
Your thoughts? Am I just too fussy about stuff like this? Does it matter? Are current cultural references actually good things, especially in YA or MG fiction or in topical thrillers where I seem to see them the most? Do you even think about this sort of thing, or do you just write the way you write and I should just go have my coffee and let you find your own authorial voice?