The Snake in the Computer

01
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The Snake in the Computer

Snake in computer
Viral image, source unknown

Netlore Archive: A woman hears hissing sounds coming from her PC and calls Tech Support. Turns out the problem is a snake coiled around the machine's innards.

Description: Viral images

Circulating since: Nov. 2002

Status: Photos appear authentic

Example #1

Email collected Nov. 12, 2002

Subject: Computer Tech Support

Tech support: "Hello. Computer tech support. How can we help you?"

Customer: "Hello. My computer was making a strange hissing noise last night and this morning when I turned it on there was a crackling noise and then some smoke and then nothing. If I bring it in can you repair it?"

Tech Support: "Sure, bring it in and we'll take a look at it."

Take a look at the pictures.....

02
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The Snake in the Computer

Snake in Computer
Viral image, source unknown

Example #2

Email collected May 1, 2003

FW: You are never going to believe this one but it is TRUE

This is a true story. This woman went out to a local computer store to buy a computer that her family wanted her to get so she can e-mail them. The sales person told her that they would deliver the computer, set it up and give her some pointers on using it, if she had any problems later all she had to do was call their "Technical Support" they would talk her through it over the phone or come back to her house to find the problem. The sales person asked her if she wanted to purchase 2 years in house warranty, the woman said yes.

03
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The Snake in the Computer

Snake in Computer
Viral image, source unknown

A few months went by, she was getting good sending and receiving mail and checking the other web sites with only one call to tech support until one day. She called tech support.

SUPPORT: Hello, technical support how can I help you

LADY: Last night my computer started making a lot of hissing noise at me so I shut it down, this morning when I turned it on the computer started hissing and cracking, then started smoking and a bad smell, then nothing.

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The Snake in the Computer

Snake in Computer
Viral image, source unknown

SUPPORT: I will have a technician come over first thing this morning, just leave the computer just like it is so they can find the problem and fix it or change it with another computer. Give me your address and phone number and the technician will be there just as soon as they can, in the morning.

When the technician got there, the lady showed the technician where the computer was, said what happen to it, this is what the technician found wrong.

Take a look at the pictures... you won't believe your eyes!!!

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Analysis

Portrait of a pit viper (Trimeresurus), Riau Islands, Indonesia
shikheigoh / Getty Images

Authentic? It's tough to say with so little evidence to go on. Though 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 in 2002 in Gatineau, Quebec, according to an article 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 not provide 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, though it should be borne in mind that not everything that looks like a snake is a snake.

Last updated 10/31/15