By Hans Ebert

It was exactly what was needed. Fun. Infectious fun. So infectious that the dancing magically morphed into a conga line. And all this taking place at a racetrack. At the venue known as Adrenaline of the Hong Kong Jockey Club.

The last race had been run and the international group of young millennials from the Beer Garden had been making their way up to Adrenaline to kick on before the last two races had been run.

They joined the regulars already at Adrenaline. Largely a fortysomething group there for the ‘live’ music between each race, dinner and following their hunches. Those who had decided to go racing to win.

It helped that two raging hot favourites won the last couple of races. Everyone and their poodle would have backed them. And everyone wants to go home a winner. It’s all the enticement those just getting their feet wet in horse racing needs for a return visit.

A friend in the F&B industry who rarely comes racing, but did so this night remarked, “There’s nothing like this in any club in Hong Kong today. Incredible that it’s happening on a racetrack.”

When everything aligns with the stars, magic happens. The ‘live’ band who can read the mood of its audience and deliver the music that they intuitively know that these can’t go wrong. It was all about non-stop hits. Like the once hugely successful Stars On 45 series of CDs.

In karaoke, no one sings songs they don’t know. Similarly, no one gets up onto a dance floor to shake their “groove thing” if they don’t recognise the music being played.

It’s not as easy as blindly booking a music act. There’s marketing involved. It’s about knowing that it’s all about knowing those horses for courses. It’s about knowing your music. Knowing your customers. Being there. Learning from what’s going on. No racing executive can understand any of this by reading an email.

What happened on that special Thursday should be bottled. It’s what horse racing desperately needs. For there to be balance. Sure, there must be the punting. As long as it’s not forced down the throats of some who just might not enjoy the taste.

Except for those who know their way around the wagering landscape, there’s a world of choices out there in the real world. Especially to risk averse millennials. None have money to lose.

It’s tough out there to just survive without chasing dreams that might not be there. These are no longer The Wolf Of Wall Street Days. These are different times. Times when that strange beast and Trojan horse known as social media has changed the face of horse racing. Forever. And that of the world.

It’s a face often flushed with unnecessary anger. Anger that way too often spills over into areas where it shouldn’t go. Especially on Twitter. Who’s really calling the shots?

Look at the Big Orange in the White House. He was voted into office. The man might be a laughing stock to the rest of the world. But he’s an unmovable object at home base. Someone who communicates through tweets. Tweets that takes cheap pot shots at everything and everyone. The man is an oaf. A liar. Buffoon. But he’s still there. Tweeting his bile.

Sound familiar? And most buy the #fakenews. Why? Brainwashed? Believing that anything tweeted must be true? Have we become a world of sheep and simpletons?

All this tweeting. What’s in it for anyone? Some of us need to be on Twitter. It’s part of our gig. It’s about having a “presence”. Paid to have this “presence”.

What’s in it for everyone else?Freedom of expression? Nothing better to do? Be the big man on the online campus? Some weird need to “engage” and belong? By joining the online Droogs in pressing that “Like” button without knowing why and joining in the constant bashing of those who can’t or can’t be bothered to fight back? Maybe it’s time to take the high road and leave the party? It’s not exactly fun these days. It’s become a highly toxic environment. It can do your head in. And for what?

Sure, have an opinion. But must it get personal? Hurtful? Cross that line of decency? Are the attempts at being “funny” at the expense of others really necessary? Ever think that these could backfire? Badly?

There are then the dear old sages in every industry. Those know-it-alls past their Use By date who believe that everyone still reads newspapers and watches television. That anyone cares what they have to say. But, there they are droning on and on until the 140 words or less just fade to black. It’s more clutter. More irrelevance.

The fact is that these days many really know no nothing about anything. It’s a dumbed down world out there. Too many Homer Simpsons. The beast called social media is the tail wagging the dog. The genie who escaped from Pandora’s Box. And created The Twitter Troll Train.

The music industry which welcomed social media with open arms is now finally looking at putting online laws into place. But these are mainly to do with copyright infringement. It’s about looking after their profit margins. It’s nothing about putting this Humpty Dumpty world together again. Or working to create firm online laws that finally rein in libel and defamation of character.

The music industry never saw the social media train wreck coming. Where the sharing of music files would lead. And how some have made something full of nothing into something that has killed off new music talent. Maybe forever.

Is Daniel Ek the antichrist of music and musicians? And his music streaming site Spotify, the Hades of music?

Those music industry power brokers back when all this social media was taking baby steps were hardly smart. They believed that suing and winning the case against Shawn Fanning, below, and Sean Parker and their illegal file sharing site Napster had made the bogeyman go away. Wrong. It only made both billionaires. They had a Plan B. What they had created took on a life of its own. It’s now running amok. Bamboozling the easily bamboozled.

Social media has not just grown. It’s multiplied. Like gremlins. It’s running the world through a data driven numbers game. Facebook. Spotify. Both got their initial rounds of funding from Hong Kong. From the city’s richest man. Billionaire Li Ka-shing.

He cashed out at the right time. Think he cares that something he helped happen has robbed the world of reality? And life’s priorities?

Life is and should be a continuous learning process. It’s what makes living interesting. And for life to be interesting, it’s about spending time in the real world. Helping to bring just a soupçon of “good vibes” to wherever one might be. Just as what happened after a rare Thursday night Happy Wednesday race meeting at Happy Valley.

Without having to think about it, that night punting became Funting. Perhaps the HKJC should think about copyrighting the word? Wait. Maybe I already have. And become the head of the Funting Movement.

Just maybe for some out there, the penny has finally dropped. How “It’s Time” is more than a meaningless hashtag.

How it’s time to swim upstream. Daring to switch off and not join that online conga line of the blind leading the blind. Refusing to go over the precipice in the process.

It’s time for individual thinking. And taking those smart pills. Breaking free. Getting back to the egg.

To paraphrase The Verve, The Online Drugs Don’t Work Anymore. They only cause another kind of addiction. The one that’s taking many to a fake world where anything goes. But where there’s nothing positive. Who needs it?

Funting just might be worth betting on.

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