In the bizarre world of cyberspace, there’s a hot new line in circulation: “I’m an accountant.”
You can suddenly find this bland phrase on YouTube, Patreon, OnlyFans, and TikTok (or at least you could until it disappeared from Hong Kong).
Many of the people using the phrase are young and unusually attractive – and the vast majority of them have never been accountants.
What’s going on?
It all started earlier this summer when a singer, songwriter and wannabe actor named Rocky Paterra was musing on the difficulties of having an embarrassing job such as being a wannabe actor, which means doing auditions full time for zero cash.
To pass the time, the New Yorker made a short TikTok rap video in which he says, over a rhythmic beat, that people with embarrassing jobs should just say “I’m an accountant.” (The implication being that that is the least embarrassing job in the world.)
The rap song includes a sample dialogue.
“What do you do?”
“I’m an accountant.”
“Where do you work?”
“At a place where accountants work.”
(Apparently, the term “firm” was far too technical for Rocky.)
Okay, so it wasn’t exactly the wittiest rap in the world, but the tune got picked up and reused by lots of other wannabe actors, and then spread to people with a range of embarrassing jobs.
People in the commercial sex trade added it to online profiles and it soon had millions of views.
Folks with a range of jobs are singing it. Buzzfeed reported that a mother who can easily cover her rent by selling pictures of her feet uses it.
The rap has given Rocky, 28, his 15 minutes of fame, and added a new catchphrase to the world. But you can see the problem.
Now, any accountant who puts “#I’manaccountant” as part of their profile on social media platforms may get a puzzled response from plugged-in people. They aren’t going to know if you’re saying you are qualified to audit their business or if you make a living selling video clips of yourself slowly eating bananas.
The obvious answer to the problem, of course, is to offer both services at the same hourly rate. “Would you like me to audit your accounts, or is there some baffling fetish I can help you with?”
In recent weeks, accountants themselves have started using the dire rap in a sort of ironic, self-mocking way. “I’m an accountant.” “Where do you work?” “At a place where accountants work.” Ha ha ha.
Still, one can’t help but wonder whether accountants could take a further step in the same direction to build up a big client base. Of course, you’d have to do it in rap. “Imma audit your biz’niss, plan for your tax, I won’t be lazy, I never be lax.”
But many ambitious accountants with social media skills were probably put off by the recent experience of one Claira Janover.
Earlier this year, the Asian-American woman, who had just been offered a job in a Big Four firm, made a 15-second TikTok video threatening to stab anyone who used the politically incorrect phrase “all lives matter.”
This triggered thousands of horrified replies.
She wrote a long apology to the Big Four firm that had offered her a job, but they sacked her over a five-minute phone call.
Apparently addicted to TikTok, she then posted two videos of herself crying. If you’re having your 15 minutes of fame, you might as well extend it for as long as possible, right?
Meanwhile, one way of getting over any possible misunderstanding is to add a second phrase. For example, you could turn up to accountant meetings with a T-shirt saying: “I’m an accountant, not a magician.”
That one would actually be quite useful in Hong Kong.
Nury Vittachi is a bestselling author, columnist, lecturer and TV host. He wrote three storybooks for the Institute, May Moon and the Secrets of the CPAs, May Moon Rescues the World Economy and May Moon’s Book of Choices