While in the World of Warcraft, even the casual player can see that many things in real life carry over into Azeroth. Although a few of these traits are actually beneficial to gameplay, there are a few similarities that may or may not have a negative effect on the society and economy in game.
While getting your feet wet in the first few levels, the last thing on a person's mind are epic items, rare gems and being flashy. Once some players hit a certain level (this level is different for everyone), they start focusing less on their enjoyment while in the game and direct their attention to gearing up. Anyone who plays the game can tell you that at one point or another, he has sat in Dalaran, Stormwind or any other city, for that matter, and laid eyes on a player running in circles on their Spectral Tiger or wielding their legendary mace.
For me, I find that I get the most out of my gameplay by doing what I personally want and desire rather than trying to outdo someone else. I'd rather be happy with my white level sword hanging out in Goldshire than carrying a legendary sword and flaunting it in Dalaran while losing all sense of happiness.
Are you happy with your quest rewards and other easily obtainable items and prefer being a "Loner Dottie, a Rebel," or do you yearn to keep up with the Wrynns, going the extra step to obtain an item that will make others swoon?