If I teach long enough I'll encounter drafts with references to the writers owning cell phones at age five and growing up having documented the world—and been documented—via social networking and 24/7 video phones. How will this affect their writing, their ability to transcend their time and place through language and imagination? Do essays move forward fueled by period details, or are they weighed down by them? If, after Wallace Stevens, an ordinary object slightly turned becomes a metaphor of that object, then certainly a slightly turned Cabbage Patch Kid or Furby has the same potential for talismanic transport as a lava lamp or a Major Matt Mason. So the problem can't be in decade-specific details, but in the way they stubbornly fail to lift out of their context into the ether where we live and read unburdened by birth dates.
The burden rests, as they all do, on the essayist, not on the world. Chatty Cathy, meet Teenage Ninja Mutant Turtle. What do you have to talk about?
Edited image of Evil Knievel Super Jet Cycle via Yesterville.