there are two types of 'people' in the game.
a) NPC. They usually do not talk back. Tutorial NPC just answer with a small advice
a) real people like you and me. But due to different time zones it is rather rare that you meet and talk with the ingame-means. People prefer to communicate with mail, e-mail, ICQ or in IRC.
And of course in the starting locations are lots of characters of inactive accounts.
To get off of your starting planet is possible in different ways.
The most prominent answer would be "Join a faction (group of players), get employed and then assigned a ship."
I would just recommend you take some time and read the Guide and the FAQ.
(links are on top of each page)