“Research is formalized curiosity.  It is poking and prying with a purpose.” Zora Neal Hurston

Want to see something funny AF?  Type “Hey Goo Goo” into Google and a video of an Italian grandmother trying to learn how to use a “Google Home” device comes up and it is actually better than funny AF…it’s F’n (freakin) hilarious.  The video has racked up an impressive 1.2 million likes. Why? Well, this adorable grandmother is trying with all of her might not to mention every ounce of creativity that she can muster to figure out how to use the device.  The funny part is that instead of saying “hey Google,” she repeatedly says “hey GOO GOO” in her thick Italian accent but gets mixed results. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t. And when it finally did work and told her the local weather forecast, she declared: “I’m scared, it’s a mystery” and backed away from the device in a hurry.

This grandmother teaches us something about the power of curiosity.  Based on that short video I’m sure that she kept working on her Google commands and by now she’s a Google Home Ninja.  Bet she knows Google Home like the back of her hand and can research anything in her sleep. You know why? Because what we focus on expands.  And repetition is the mother of skill. But what does this viral video have to do with the exercise of your legal rights? Glad you asked.

If I were in your shoes, I’d be asking the same thing and I’m sure that I’d have trouble connecting the dots between this grandmother’s struggle to learn Google Home and the exercise of my constitutional rights too.  But after nearly 18 years as an attorney, I’ve witnessed people lose their life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness (jobs, kids, reputation, etc.) all because of the failure to follow this grandmother’s example. Effort.  To care enough to find out how to do something that will one day pay dividends. For her: how to use Google Home and for you, how to exercise your legal rights.

Why do people lose everything? It simple: laziness…because they weren’t willing to do anything to avoid losing.

In the end, I guess the old saying that “if I had known better, I would’ve done better” is true.  You see with better information, we can make better choices and with better choices, we get better outcomes.  Knowledge is King. But with a lack of knowledge, all we get is losing. I’ve seen it first hand, without knowledge: people lose because parents didn’t know that they shouldn’t march their kids down to the police station and order them to “tell the police everything that you know.”  Because kids didn’t know that they had a right to have their parents present before speaking to police. Because adults didn’t know that their juvenile records could be used against them to enhance sentences. Because drivers didn’t know that they didn’t have to allow police to search their trunks.  Because homeowners didn’t know that they didn’t have to allow police into their homes without a warrant. Because inmates didn’t know that their jail calls really are being recorded. Because people didn’t know that anything they said to police can and would be used against them in court.

I think you get the point by now.  That people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.  But here’s the crazy part. In all of these examples, these things are easily knowable.  It’s not like these things are hidden. To the contrary, these things can be known by simply following the grand example of an Italian grandmother saying “Hey GOO GOO!” MAKE THE EFFORT. In 2020, folks will lose their life and liberty all the while walking around with “GOO GOO” also known as Google in the palm of their hands or hanging out of their back pocket or neatly tucked in their bras.  NEWS FLASH: Google is the world’s most powerful search engine ever known to man.  

A simple Google search of “What are my 5th Amendment rights?” yields instant results and you can know to how to exercise your rights.  A Google search takes less than a minute but can save you a lifetime. That thing in your hand that you use to watch cat videos on YouTube or peeping everyone’s latest Facebook post or to drool over Instagram models can also be used to learn your legal rights on what to do if you’re stopped by the police or they show up at your home or approach you at a gas station and ask to speak to you.

Let this article serve as a PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: PEOPLE ARE DESTROYED FOR A LACK OF (LEGAL) KNOWLEDGE.  PEOPLE GET LOCKED UP BECAUSE THEY DON’T KNOW THE LAW. PEOPLE WITH SMART PHONES THAT REFUSE TO INVEST THE TIME TO LEARN THEIR RIGHTS ARE BEING DUMB.  But it doesn’t have to be that way, take it from an Italian grandmother: what you focus on expands and repetition is the mother of skill.  If you’re reading this article that means you can start right now, what are you waiting for, don’t just sit there GOOGLE SOMETHING SMART…HEY GOO GOO!!

Corey L. Scott, Law Office of Corey L. Scott, 1099 N. Meridian Street, Suite 150, Indianapolis, IN 46204; [email protected]; @coreyscottlaw (twitter; Instagram; FaceBook)