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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Snake in the Computer

The Snake in the Computer

Netlore Archive: When a woman's computer begins making strange hissing sounds, she calls Tech Support. And what should they find upon opening up the housing of her PC but a snake coiled around the machine's innards...

The Snake in the Computer - Analysis

Comments: Authentic? It's tough to say with so little evidence to go on. Although the preceding images weren't manipulated (so far as I can tell), the same isn't necessarily true of the snake itself. Did it really crawl into the computer under its own power, or was it placed there as a prank? Your guess is as good as mine.
Computer CPUs generate heat and reptiles like warm places to hide, so it's not implausible, given the opportunity and a big enough opening to squeeze through, that a wayward snake would take refuge in the housing of a PC. In fact, just such an occurrence was reported last year in Gatineau, Quebec, according to a story in the Ottawa Citizen:
A Gatineau man searching for a baseball glove in his basement office made a scaly discovery instead. Gilles St-Jean noted that there was a "disk eject" warning on his computer screen. He tried to press the button to close the door holding the disk. It went in halfway, then popped out again. It was then he saw a snake's head protruding from the disk holder. He grabbed for the reptile, but it disappeared into the entrails of the computer.
You will note that the details of the above report are appreciably less dramatic than those of the email tale at hand. Absent are the inexperienced female computer user as a main character (how wise she was to opt for the two-year warranty!), the mysterious hiss and crackle followed by a puff of smoke heralding a broken PC, and the visit to (or by, depending on the version) an unsuspecting Tech Support guy whose lot it is to uncover the grisly cause of the malfunction. This comparative richness of narrative detail, the fact that more than one variant of the story exists and the up-front insistence that it's absolutely true are all hallmarks of an urban legend, suggesting that the forwarded text may well notprovide a true account of what's going on in the photos.
As folklorist Jan Harold Brunvand points out, snakes have figured prominently in human folklore and mythology since time immemorial, most often as a symbol of evil or misfortune. Paradoxically, much of the modern folklore surrounding snakes stems from the fact that many people keep these otherwise reviled creatures as household pets. "When these pets get loose and are found in unexpected places, publicity about the incidents is considerable," writes Brunvand, "and it tends to feed into legendary lore about snakes in toilets, coiled around water pipes, in heating vents, under floorboards, inside hollow walls, and so on."
It's high time we added computers to that list.

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