Hand me the little microphone (so I can throw it in the trash)

Laura*, 21, was looking for something to eat after a night out with friends in London. As darkness fell, a man jumped out toward the crowd on the sidewalk. She was startled. "Being approached by a man at night usually means something unpleasant is going to happen," she said, remembering him saying something like, "Hey ladies, what's your biggest pet peeve?" while pointing a tiny microphone in her direction. Another man was filming the group with an iPhone. Laura continued walking and replied: "This."

Although videos of Laura and her friends have yet to make it into TikTok's FYP ("probably because I'm not cooperating," she thinks), similar content using funny props is rampant on the platform. The hashtags #tinymic and #tinymicinterview have 200 million and 12 million views respectively. But like most other once quirky and niche TikTok trends, tiny microphones are now overhyped.

Sometimes the videos take a "people on the street" approach, with the interviewer pointing a tiny microphone at people while asking questions, as was the case with Laura. Or the videos are Tinx-style, with the creator looking into the camera and speaking their truth. Think of tiny microphones as your modern soapbox. The trend has even spread to offline movie premieres and celebrity interviews.

"It felt like a bargain basement when I walked over and suddenly someone handed me a little microphone."

Dayna Roselli, co-owner of Insightful Media, which provides broadcast expertise to brands, and co-host of the Vegas Revealed podcast, who has worked in broadcast journalism for more than 20 years, said the tiny microphone video features A-list stars. It's extremely annoying. "I saw Brad Pitt on the red carpet and [a media outlet] had him holding a little microphone, and I was like, 'No, this can't be happening,'" she tells Bustle. “This whole thing bothers me,” she posted on TikTok in March, saying it was the social media trend that annoyed her the most.

Co-owner and co-host Sean McAllister points out that there are many ways to use a microphone that is too small. “Use a stick mic, a shotgun mic, or a lavalier mic. There are so many other mic options!” he says.

The tiny microphone had its heyday in 2020 and 2021 after many people finally gave in, downloaded TikTok, and started sharing what they wanted to say. This trend can be attributed, at least in part, to Tinx, an influencer known for giving advice online. Arguably one of the biggest creators of tiny microphones at the time, in September 2020 she responded to a comment urging her to clip the mic instead of holding it. Her reaction? "It's not a vibe. My mini mic is like my baby now." She used this as a ploy, launching a wave of imitators. (She records her podcast It's Me, Tinx with a regular-sized microphone . )


When any trend reaches fever pitch on TikTok, it won't be long before brands and other blue tick accounts try to capitalize on it. For Gen Z creators to follow in Tinx's footsteps and become a funny trend, there's nothing more cringe-worthy than a verified account trying to get in on the joke.

Still, there is a time and place for some people - but only if the content is engaging enough and doesn't require minor accessories. Kylee Roman is a radio host turned full-time TikTok creator. She initially hated the trend because of the low audio quality, but now actually likes it because it's no longer the only thing in her five-year plan. "It's like people putting on lip gloss now when they tell stories," she said. "It's another piece of the puzzle to attract someone."

While that may be fine for completely silly content, Rosselli and McAllister believe that real news outlets using tiny microphones diminish their credibility. Rosselli summed up the thoughts of her frequent red carpet-walking friend when she said, "When I walk up and suddenly someone hands me a little microphone, it feels like a bargain basement." McAllister said: "The cord is never long enough and the tiny mic just sits there. It looks awkward and stupid. This little mic needs to die."


Still, maybe there's still hope for tiny mic content, as long as it doesn't try to cross the line from pleasant editing to reputable journalism. Whether viewers will be able to get anything labeled "news" or "dating advice" from a tiny microphone user is to be taken with a grain of salt -- those $9 mics can never replace years of broadcast experience or expertise certification. That question may be a step too far when the U.S. ranks 15th out of 44 countries studied, according to Media Literary Now, and fact-checking policies against TikTok are still evolving.

Whether the mini-microphone trend is officially dead doesn't depend on any one individual, but rather on the elusive TikTok algorithm. One day, the five-year plan will no longer favor creators who approach people with tiny microphones. Then there might be a new algorithm-approved prop—perhaps the echo mic or hand puppet from our childhoods—that creators can use as a new tool for virality. Maybe then we'll all be free from the tiny tether of these microphones.

*Name has been changed