When Elon Musk was pondering a new moniker for Twitter, did he ever consider ‘Boomer’s doom’? 

While that phrase may be offensive to some, and for which The Herald apologises, it’s got a fitting ring to it. Social media has a habit of casting people of a certain age onto the rocks of misfortune when they let slip something which causes younger generations to stop in their tracks.

Would JK Rowling have been hauled over the coals so relentlessly if she’d stuck to writing letters to newspapers, instead of airing her views on Twitter?

The platform only allows for snatches of complex conversation, while providing ample room for insults and declarations of undying enmity. Even a misplaced ‘like’ or emoji can bring down the ire of the mob. 

Simply put, social media can be a minefield if you’re not posting videos of your cat, and even then, you should probably tread warily.

It’s recently been the turn of Irish singer Roisin Murphy, 50, to climb into the barrel and declare it open season for all the sharpshooters out there.

The Herald: Roisin Murphy 

Now a pop star with a huge following, Murphy was once the voice behind Moloko, whose upbeat hits ‘Sing it back’ and ‘The Time is Now’ lit up dancefloors in the late 90s and early 00s.

Even if you’re not familiar with the band’s oeuvre, you’ll likely have nodded your head or tapped your feet to at least one of their tracks if the year of your birth begins with a 19.

Since those days she’s embarked on a strong solo career, and scooped a Mercury prize nomination in 2015.

But it's not her music which has catapulted her back into the headlines  -  she managed that herself with a simple click of her mouse.

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Unprompted, the singer took to Facebook earlier last month to get something off her chest, and sent shockwaves roilling through her fanbase.

In a post on her private page, which escaped onto the internet and became viral, she said: “Puberty blockers are f------, absolutely desolate, big pharma laughing all the way to the bank. “Little mixed-up kids are vulnerable and need to be protected, that’s just true.”

Murphy added, seemingly for good measure, “Please don’t call me a terf [trans-exclusionary radical feminist], please don’t keep using that word against women.”

By way of explanation; Ms Murphy was referring to drugs which may be prescribed to children deemed transgender in an effort to arrest the onset of puberty and prevent sex organs developing fully. It’s a touchy subject, to put it very mildly. 

Given the febrile nature of debate around transgender issues, this was a bold view for a celebrity to state publicly. People have received death threats for less controversial takes.

For Murphy, the response was a swift cancelling. Fans took to Twitter – now known as X – to metaphorically tar and feather the former idol, declaring themselves done with her, her music, and her shows.

As the news spread, two of her planned concerts in London promoting her new album were cancelled, and it was even reported that her record label Ninja Tune would stop promoting the album, and would “donate proceeds from the project to trans charities” (this last part appears to have been a figment of over-active imaginations, however, and has been denied).

Next up was the BBC, which was due to air an ‘Artist Collection’ featuring Ms Murphy. Five hours of the singer’s songs, interviews and concert highlights were set to play on 6 Music next week, in tribute to her long career.

The programme had been scheduled to air between midnight and 5am next Monday. However, it has now been replaced by an edition dedicated to rapper Little Simz.

The broadcaster denies any connection between the schedule change and the recent controversy, insisting “Little Simz was scheduled to reflect 6 Music’s Way With Words programming, which celebrates poetry, rap and spoken word, and airs the following week, tying in with National Poetry Day. 

“There was no other reason for the change. Roisin Murphy has been played on 6 Music recently and her Artist Collection remains in rotation.”

But the timing of it all added fuel to the fire.

At this point it’s worth stepping back and wondering at the strangeness of it all. As a doyen of the dancefloor, Murphy - a couture-clad weirdo, in the words of one reviewer - was beloved of the queer community and knew her audience well.

In the past she has described herself as a “drag queen”, and told Gay Times in 2018: "I think it was in Paris when I realised I had a gay following. Men with their tops off, people screaming to the ceiling, sweat pouring down them.

“I thought, ‘This is the right audience for me’. It’s how it should be. It should be fun, it should be gay, it should be united, it should be all these things.”

The Herald: Roisin Murphy at Glastonbury 

Her Facebook comments will have stung the fans who loved her most, and you have to ponder what she was thinking, especially when she was on the verge of releasing her latest album ‘Hit Parade’ this month. A rift with her most loyal listeners should surely have been the last thing on her mind.

But help was at hand. Whenever someone is cancelled these days, there’s steady stalwarts waiting in the wings to rescue them from the zone of no return.

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Graham Linehan, fresh from his own cancellation at the Edinburgh Fringe and Brendan O’Neill, author and one of that new breed of ‘free-speech advocates’, have called on their online followers to support Murphy and there has been support across social media from those who say they are sick of ‘cancel culture’.

Whether Murphy welcomes their support or not has not been revealed, but it hasn’t hurt – Hit Parade is on course to be her first no 10 success in the UK, and has been acclaimed by critics as her best work yet.

O’Neill summed up the mood among her new supporters, telling The Telegraph: “It looks like cancel culture has finally met its match. 

“The digital inquisition thought it could drag Murphy down but they’ve had a rude awakening. Loads of people are buying her album, firstly because it’s brilliant, and secondly because they want to show solidarity with a woman who was so ruthlessly and unfairly demonised by woke loons.”

For her own part, Murphy has apologised to her fans, releasing a statement where she said she was bowing out of “a very public discourse in an arena I’m uncomfortable in and deeply unsuited for”, 

She added: “I cannot apologise enough for being the reason for this eruption of damaging and potentially dangerous social-media fire and brimstone. 

“To witness the ramifications of my actions and the divisions it has caused is heartbreaking.”

But was there more than a hint of a goodbye to her apology?

The statement continued: “I’ve spent my whole life celebrating diversity and different views, but I never patronise or cynically aim my music directly at the pockets of any demographic.  

“The music I make is the core of everything I do and it’s ever- evolving, freewheeling and unpredictable. For those of you that are leaving me, or have already left, I understand, I really do, but please know I have loved every one of you.”