I have been wondering the same thing over and over, especially now as I have tried to start a total pacifist project. How WoW actually guides, ushers and urges us players to do things in certain ways.
The actual social tools are adequate at best, and the game mechanics teach us from the first level on to mind our own business, solo everything we encounter and kill all sorts of creatures to advance. Later on we're taught to steal from inns (look at the Dalaran cooking quests!), that torturing is ok if someone else says it's ok (Kirin Tor quest in Northrend) and so on. Even the Heroics late in WotLK taught us that it's ok to be a jerk as long as the mobs die.
Now the issue I'm having at the moment is the fact that the game requires us to kill, maim and destroy from the beginning. You cannot start a worgen without going through the worgen starter area, which requires you to kill in the second quest. And you cannot skip any quests or you get stuck with the starter Gilneas for good. It's like an island, ending in digital void all around. I have pictures to show that, maybe I'll enter them in here later on.
So I started another 'new' class combo: gnome priest. And guess what?
The first quest is to kill 6 deranged gnomes. You cannot skip that quest, but at least you can get out of Gnomeregan to the Real World by just skipping all the starter quests. But then you are gimped from the beginning: the quests out there start from level 2 or 3, so you are out there with your lv1 toon, fiddling your fingers.
So I've been running around the world and I've been able to get to level 3 by now, with much more played time than you'd require for the normal level 5. And the worst thing? As I haven't been able to do more quests than the few delivery quests, I don't have any money to purchase herbalism which would be both an experience source and money maker.
WoW definitely is no sandbox game to pass your time. Everything you want to do outside the theme park box gets you in deep end of the pond and there is no real light at the end of the tunnel.
Maybe I should transfer some gold from my banker to this toon to get going?