Self-interview with selfie: Joe Drennan, journalist and writer

We copyrighted the idea in 2012. The concept is simple. We identify emerging creatives, interesting people who we believe will be captivating to read about. We invite people to interview themselves and take a selfie. The self-interview with selfie was inspired by an empirical tool specifically for use in memory studies research. Our idea was developed to overcome some of the practical limitations of one-to-one interviews and address a new type of journalism. We ask queer creatives & interesting people to interview themselves. The manner can be through storytelling, diary-keeping, questions, images, sound, or any other meaning of representation. We believe it is interesting what our guests wanna tell people about themselves avoiding intrusion by another person. Today we invited Joe Drennan.

Who are you?

My name is Joe, Im 20 and Im a journalist and writer from Ireland. My big three: Libra Sun, Scorpio Moon, and Cancer Rising. I live in Berlin for now. Even though its only for a short time, its important to me that it exists in writing somewhere that I lived in Berlin. 

Why do you think you have been asked to do this interview?

I dont know. Ive been struggling with deciding what people want to hear from me in a self-interview. Ive definitely played it very uncool and overthought the whole thing. I cant offer much else other than honesty, so Ive decided to let it all hang (somewhat) loose and try to give you a good read. 

What event made you realise that you want to become a journalist?

I remember when I was 14-18, I had a little cyberstalker. Theyd add me on Snapchat or Instagram and pose as someone in the closet from my area who wanted to get to know me. The names of the accounts throughout the years were different every time, and I didnt realise until the end that it was all from the same person. They would usually tell me things theyd heard about me, where I was or what I was doing on certain nights out, let me know that they liked what I was wearing etc. Creepy but intriguing, (sometimes reassuring) things like that. 

As I said, I didnt realise it was the same person all along until I was older. Another account had added me when I was 18, and we were in contact for a long time, several months actually. Id describe it as my first on-again-off-again relationship; the conversations were few and far between and very short-lived. Thats when I really put in the effort to find out who it was. I finally pieced it all together with old screenshots from my iPad mini. 

Theres a multitude of reasons why I hung on so long to eventually find out who it was. Firstly, I like to get to the bottom of things and have an incessant need to know everything. Secondly, I was living in rural Ireland and didnt have much else to do at the time. Finally, most detrimentally, I loved the attention. It was all so Pretty-Little-Liars-coded. 

I found out who it was in the end – too long and distressing to explain how. I know that they know that I know. I love having that one-up on them Im petty like that. So, to conclude, that was probably my first piece of investigative journalism. 

Aside from pettiness and determination, what qualities do you admire about yourself, and what ones do you want to work on? 

I think confidence is my favourite trait to have because its interesting to see how other people react to it. It seems that when people point out that aspect of me, its either because they want to admire it, or they want to challenge it, take me down a peg. 

The confidence originally came from dealing with people in the latter; the ones that dont think you have a reason to think highly of yourself. 

I think highly of myself because I fucking want to. 

To think of anything else or to reinforce the negatives is exhausting. I guess you could say that my confidence is reactionary and not really self-sustaining. Does it really matter though?

I think it comes out of necessity – confidence. Its like: I dont want to believe these things people think about me, so let me be extra sure of myself just to piss them off.You also have to make your own opportunities because nothing falls into your lap. You have to have the confidence to ask for what you want, to demand it, and then eventually youll get it. Believe in yourself <3

Its not that I have one quality that I like and one that I dont. Its more that each trait has different sides of the same coin. 

Have you realised anything about yourself during this interview?

That I always put my best foot forward. 

Whats something you wish that you knew a year ago?

I checked my camera roll to see what I was doing a year ago today. There were three screenshots from Etsy of reborn dolls* and four mirror selfies. 

* A reborn doll is a handmade art doll that has been transformed by an artist to resemble a human infant with as much realism as possible. The process of creating a reborn doll is referred to as reborning and the doll artists are referred to as reborners. (Wikipedia)

I remember I was thinking to do a story on this. What I wish I knew is that I couldve just written this story because I was interested in the topic. This was one where my ego took over and became obsessed with where it was gonna go, and who would read it, to the point where I canned it all together. I wish I wouldve known to have gotten over myself. Its a story about human-like baby dolls, it really wasnt that deep. 

Whats a decision youve made that felt small at the time but eventually had a major impact on you?

Watching Gone Girl at 12 years of age. I still use that movie as a test for new people in my life, friends or otherwise. (Mostly otherwise) I’ve watched that movie several times with different people subtly suggesting it beforehand so I can judge their reactions later. Im usually interested to see to what level they can identify with the character of Amy.

Then what would be the most important quality that you look for in a partner or friend, and why?

Honesty. So many people have lied to me over the years that all I want from new people is for them to tell me the truth about everything. 

Is that the whole truth? (I know it isnt, babe)

No, its actually that Ive lied so much to myself over the years that I project this fear of dishonesty onto everyone else. 

It still does irritate me though, when I know someone is lying – but I do love the brazenness of an open lie.  

Whats the (second) last thing you lied about?

Probably about being cool with something that I was not at all cool with and that Im not a people pleaser. 

Can you do an Irish goodbye?

(white space intentionally left)

Joe Drennan is a journalist and writer based in Berlin, originally from Ireland and is currently studying Journalism and German at the University of Limerick. Joe’s exceptional writing abilities have resulted in him being nominated in three different categories at the prestigious SMEDIAs, a nationwide competition for student media. These categories include Journalist of the Year, Features Writer of the Year for News and Current Affairs, and Short Story of the Year. Joe actively contributes to GCN, recognized as Ireland’s longest-standing LGBTQ+ publication. Moreover, he possesses ambitious plans to independently publish a collection of personal narratives and poetry by the end of this year.

You can find him on Instagram: @joedrennan__

UPDATE. Joe Brennan passed away at 21 years old in Limerick, on the 15th of October 2023.


“Self-Interview with Selfie” is an ongoing column coordinated by Liviu Bulea, an artist, curator, and storyteller residing between Berlin and Turda.

You can find him on Instagram: @liviu.bulea2



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